Study: Clinical Support Staff Burnout Linked to Patient Communication Challenges

Reaching out, responding to, and reassuring patients at every turn during COVID-19 — whether about how to join a telehealth visit or new waiting room protocols — have increased the workload and stress of clinical support staff.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many clinical support staff had to manage antiquated patient communications systems (e.g., robocalls) that frustrated patients and failed to deliver the positive experience provider organizations desired.

Unfortunately, both patients and staff have lost — and continue to lose — valuable time due to these outdated ways of communicating, such as holding for minutes on end, playing ongoing phone tag, or missing each other altogether. COVID-19 has exacerbated these situations — jeopardizing patient health and experience, as well as staff well-being.

A new WELL™ Health study of 320 frontline clinical support staff, all of whom communicate and coordinate directly with patients outside of the office, found:

88% report moderate to extreme burnout, with more than half (56%) rating it on the high to extreme end.

82% believe the patient communication process is a direct cause of their burnout. A majority of survey respondents (96%) indicate phone-based communication is their primary method of patient communication.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) report they have considered quitting or switching jobs because of the stress caused by patient-communication processes.

Read the full study here.


Clinical Support Staff Are Overwhelmed and Burned Out – Reporting Patient Communications Is a Direct Cause

Which Part of the Patient Communications Process is Overwhelming Staff?

Clinical Support Staff Burnout and Patient Communication Challenges Affect Patient Care

The Good News? Staff Are Speaking Up About Burnout And Management Is Responding

Ineffective phone-based communications is one of the contributing factors to clinical support staff burnout.

To combat this growing trend, health systems should leverage the latest patient communication innovations to reduce clinical staff burnout and improve patient care.

Here are the key factors to look for when considering a patient communications technology solution:

Meet patients where they are

Meet patients where they are
Connect securely with patients anywhere, anytime (and in real-time) through today’s most accessible communication: text messaging.

Unify patient communications with a platform-level solution

Unify patient communications with a platform-level solution
Ensure various patient touchpoints — sent via text, email, phone and live chat — are connected into a single conversation thread. This way, staff can have one cohesive view of the patient’s communication history across their digital health ecosystem.

Empower clinical support staff

Empower clinical support staff
Enable staff to quickly customize and disseminate messaging — without relying on IT tickets or third-party vendors — so they can quickly engage patients in real-time.

Prioritize security

Prioritize security
Look for vendors who are committed to deploying and enforcing the latest information security frameworks and are HITRUST certified.

Amplify existing IT investments

Amplify existing IT investments
Partner with a vendor that integrates with existing clinical and administrative systems (such as patient portals and payment platforms) to multiply the value of your investments.

Leverage the latest patient communication innovations to reduce staff burnout and improve patient care.
Read the full study here

Clinical Support Staff Burnout Linked to Patient Communication Challenges

Altura Participates in Call to Text Pilot Program

Altura Centers for Health participates in a pilot program for the new WELL “Call to Text” feature which enables patients who call their providers to continue engagement via text messaging.  Call to Text helped Altura’s call abandonment rate drop 5%, a decrease in nearly 1,000 abandoned calls per month.

“The staff would love for everyone to utilize the texting feature. It’s less burdensome, and it allows them to handle multiple patients almost simultaneously.” – Arnie Reynoso, Chief Information Officer, Altura Centers for Health

Kheir Clinic

A community health center located in the Koreatown district of Los Angeles, California, Kheir Clinic becomes a vaccination destination for hard-to-reach patients through texting technology and multilingual outreach campaigns.

“Our clinic got a quick start on vaccinations because we jumped on board with text outreach quickly,” said Shawn Werve, Vice President of Operations.


Community Memorial Health System Pivots During COVID Crisis

Like most healthcare providers in early March 2020, Community Memorial Health System (CMHS) had to quickly react to the overnight COVID-19 shut down. CMHS turned to WELL to help them send out mass communications about their new telehealth system so they could continue servicing their community.

“I don’t think we could have made it through this past year without using WELL as our primary tool for communicating with patients because it made a lot of things possible.” — Kristine Supple, Director of Population Health

Sansum Clinic ChatAssist AI

Sansum Clinic increased efficiency for staff and patients using WELL ChatAssist AI. New technology further improved Sansum Clinic’s patient communications in key areas such as telehealth, portal enrollment, insurance verification, and COVID-19 vaccinations.

“It’s been life-changing. WELL has definitely given us a competitive advantage to continue in this industry.” Jessica Acevado, Call Center Patient Access Manager, Sansum Clinic

Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute

Learn how Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute (formerly Santa Monica Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group) used WELL to improve patient and staff satisfaction. 

“WELL has transformed our patient communications. It has blended naturally and intuitively into our practice operations, and we actively look for ways to use it even more.” — Siobhan Palmer, Director, Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute

Optimizing Revenue In Uncertain Times

A 2021 AHA study states the healthcare industry will lose between $53 to $122 billion, depending on the state of the economy. As health systems move forward in revenue recovery efforts after the COVID-19 pandemic, patient engagement will be key to their financial success. The WELL™ Optimizing Revenue In Uncertain Times playbook provides multiple workflows and sample messaging for healthcare organizations to effectively facilitate patient communication.

Dayton Children’s Hospital

Dayton Children’s Hospital – an Epic EHR customer – enabled many patients to have an anxiety-free Christmas by using the WELL™ platform to text COVID-19 test results to patients in an hour or less during the busy holiday season despite short staffing and high testing demands.

“Locally, there are many COVID testing places…having the option to give patients their results so fast is what’s making us the exception,” said Nikki Collier, Project Manager, Digital Engagement Operations.

Monterey Spine & Joint

Monterey Spine & Joint, a busy, sizable sports medicine and physical therapy clinic, radically improved its call center answer rate from 60% to 95% using WELL bi-directional text messaging. The clinic also used WELL Broadcast Messaging to save time and improve staff efficiency whenever they needed to send out mass messages about scheduling changes or update their patients about COVID-19 protocols.

“WELL Health has completely transformed how MSJ communicates with our patients. It took patient communication from being one of our biggest sources of patient complaints to being an area that is one of our biggest strengths,” said Jason Wilfong, Chief Operating Officer.  

Increased Patient Satisfaction

One of the key reasons for low patient satisfaction is poor patient-provider communications. Download these case studies to see how healthcare providers of various sizes and types radically improved their patient satisfaction scores after implementing the WELL™ communication hub.