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Unfortunately, both patients and staff have lost — and continue to lose — valuable time due to these outdated ways of communicating, such as holding for minutes on end, playing ongoing phone tag, or missing each other altogether.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.