As the pandemic enters its third year, it’s no surprise that the healthcare sector is facing significant strains in many ways. In fact, a recent survey conducted by USA Today and Ipsos revealed numerous warning signs about the impact of the pandemic on healthcare workers. With more than half of respondents citing burnout, optimism has waned since spring 2021, largely due to disapproval of the pandemic’s handling and increasing administrative burdens.
The importance of efficient, optimized processes
While history cannot be erased with the way the pandemic was handled, healthcare company executives can still make improvements to their internal processes, and with many reports noting an increase in manual data entry, the Fixing this issue is a top priority.
Professionals believe that automating processes would not only improve their careers, but also help employees refocus on what matters most – caring for patients – and improve data integrity by reducing user error will. Without changes, administrative staff fear that employee turnover will be the biggest threat to their company over the next two years.
Determination of the administrative burden
How do we overcome this archaic system? Doctor YiDing Yu, chief medical officer at Olive Olive — a company that focuses on AI for healthcare — commented on the topic, citing that the Great Resignation did not miss the healthcare industry.
Olive conducted its own survey of healthcare workers and senior executives in late 2021 and confirmed that manual and administrative burdens were ranked as the top reason for burnout.
“In fact, 52% said there would never be enough staff in their organizations today to handle the volume of patient data,” Yu added.
Hiring staff for manual tasks is impractical, and asking your healthcare workers, who should be focused on patient care, to take care of these tasks is also impractical. A doctor herself, Yu agrees that she didn’t enter the industry to get sucked into these bureaucratic tasks and has a better idea: using technology to increase efficiency and streamline administrative work.
Fortunately, healthcare leaders recognize that this is the future of the industry, and eight in 10 believe healthcare will soon be an innovation leader. Olive employees are already working hard to achieve this goal. Olive’s platforms create an ecosystem of businesses to connect these disjointed systems and deliver insights to improve the quality of care. Yu is confident that this “Internet of Healthcare” will help reduce burnout not only for the provider, but also for employers, workers, and stakeholders.
Improve work quality now
While reducing the amount of manual work in a doctor’s day-to-day life will no doubt improve overall job satisfaction, what can companies do in the meantime?
Kevin Stevenson, director of strategic operations at Ascension Providence and host of the I Don’t Care podcast, has practical, creative ideas for administrators and other industry leaders to adopt now.
As Yu mentioned, a quarter of all healthcare workers plan to quit their job in the next few years as more than half of healthcare workers cite burnout in the industry.
What are healthcare leaders doing about it? More flexibility in scheduling, improving work-life balance, and more creative thinking are three actions Stevenson believes are essential to reducing these statistics. In addition, he sees HR departments revamping the hiring process, onboarding process, and retention process.
Stevenson also offers many helpful and practical ways to start boosting morale now. He gave an example of the efforts that Ascension has already initiated: “We call them thankful Thursdays. Hospital leaders… will offer to host various events, be it hot chocolate, snacks, or small freebies and the like.” An added and unexpected bonus is that patients and visitors have noticed their efforts, which has helped increase brand awareness and patient satisfaction organically increase.
To further boost morale, Ascension includes frontline employees with leadership in its planning processes, which in turn leads to increased efficiency as employees are the ones who are most “in-the-know”. In addition, they also verify salaries and implement other benefits such as mental health sessions, where the service is provided at no additional cost, with total confidentiality and in a low-traffic area of the hospital. Finally, to increase interest in and recruitment to the healthcare industry, Ascension uses Boots on the Ground to talk to students about the rewarding career and efforts to improve.
Healthcare: The industry for leading innovations
Despite the glaring statistics, the healthcare workforce has been resilient and still believes there is hope, with three-quarters of Ipsos survey respondents agreeing “I enjoy working in healthcare” and a majority saying “hopeful” about the job to be.
As Yu clarified earlier, healthcare executives believe the industry will emerge as a technology leader, and they are not alone in this confidence.
Nearly 98% of healthcare professionals expect AI-led advances to propel them forward.
The majority said they believe this technology will lead to fully automated data entry, patient access to medical records anywhere, and virtual visits becoming the norm.
In conclusion, Jeremy Friese, President of Payer Market at Olive, said it best: “The healthcare industry deserves the automation that so many other industries have already experienced, to enable it to function optimally… The Internet of Healthcare Report shows this across the healthcare industry, workers and patients — rather than running from change — want to run toward it to improve their jobs, the patient experience, and ultimately their health.”
Bottom Line: It’s going to be challenging, and healthcare leaders need to think more creatively to move forward.