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Unfortunately, both patients and staff have lost — and continue to lose — valuable time due to these outdated ways of communicating, such as holding for minutes on end, playing ongoing phone tag, or missing each other altogether.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.
KEY STUDY FINDINGS
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 5 key factors to look for when considering a patient communications technology solution:
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
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
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.
Look for vendors who are committed to deploying and enforcing the latest information security frameworks and are HITRUST certified.
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.