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Using Technology to Address Clinician Burnout

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges with clinician burnout were impacting the healthcare system. A 2019 British Medical Association (BMA) survey found 80% of doctors were at high or very high risk of burnout.

Enter the pandemic: staffing shortages, supply chain issues, and new regulations all contributed to an increase in clinician burnout over the last two years. This is a major issue- burned out clinicians make more mistakes and have less satisfied patients. In this article, we discuss ways to use technology to address burnout and improve workflows.

clinician burnout

Causes of Clinician Burnout

The COVID-19 pandemic illuminated just how fragile the healthcare workforce is. As COVID-19 swept across the country, front-line workers were under immense pressure to serve their patients in extremely stressful circumstances. In the early days of the pandemic, the lack of personal protective equipment required clinicians to put their lives on the line to care for patients. In addition, quarantines for COVID-19 exposure and family caretaking responsibilities drastically impacted staffing and patient-to-nurse levels. Healthcare workers often had no choice but to take on more shifts during highly stressful time periods to help patients get the care they deserve.

Even though the pandemic is winding down, clinicians are still experiencing the effects of burnout. Healthcare workers are leaving their jobs at high rates and in some cases leaving the field altogether. Workforce shortages, increasing stress, and clinical documentation requirements leave healthcare professionals increasingly burned out.

Ways to Alleviate Clinician Burnout with Digital Technology

Not only is burnout bad for health care providers, but it can also lead to mistakes and poor patient experiences. New technology can help alleviate burnout, but it is important to find a balance. Introducing new technologies without proper training or administration can increase stress and make things worse. EHRs are an example of a type of technology that is often a major cause of burnout. It is important to be thoughtful with any technology implementation.

Below, we discuss some ways to use technology to streamline and accelerate clinician workflows.

Reduce Administrative Burdens

New technology can help streamline administrative workflows. Let’s use an annual doctor’s appointment as an example. Upon arrival to an appointment, a patient fills out a paper form with their health conditions, medications, family history, and other information. It is collected by the front desk and the patient heads into the appointment, where they are often asked the same series of questions by the clinician, who hastily types the answers into the patient’s health record.

There is a better way to collect this information. By digitizing the patient intake form, the patient’s answers are automatically added to their health record, reducing administrative time. The clinician can spend more time providing health care, rather than filling out paperwork. Updating patient health records is one of the most time-consuming tasks that leads to burnout. By digitizing some of this paperwork, it reduces the administrative burden on clinicians.

Patient Education

Patient education is extremely important in a world of medical misinformation. However, it can also be a time-consuming process for front-line staff. Digitizing patient resources in the form of articles, videos, and PDFs is a convenient way to answer frequently asked questions.

Let’s use an example of a patient with a broken arm. They get a cast at the office and the doctor explains how to take care of it. However, when they get home and go to sleep, they wake up with an extremely itchy arm. They might be concerned and reach out to their healthcare provider. Instead interrupting the clinician’s day with a phone call, the administrative staff can email pre-produced videos or articles explaining how to treat the itching and what they should do if it becomes more severe.

By creating these materials in advance, it is easy for clinicians to rapidly answer questions. In addition, patients can have their issues addressed quickly and will have a better experience. They also may be less likely to turn to social media to crowdsource at-home remedies.

Patient Communication

On that note, anyone who has tried to get in touch with their doctor by making a phone call knows how time-consuming and tedious it can be. Instead, encourage asynchronous messaging for non-urgent medical issues. Asynchronous messaging, like secure email and texting, is not immediate and clinicians can respond to whenever is convenient. It is useful when requesting referrals and prescription refills.

Using a patient portal allows both doctors and administrators from the office to address the patient’s needs and distribute workflows in a way that makes sense. Although a patient may seek out a doctor, their issues may be more properly handled by a nurse or administrative staff.

Conclusion

Clinician burnout is a major issue impacting health systems and patient health outcomes. Tackling this challenge is a difficult task, but organizations should look into ways to use technology to improve and automate workflows.

Promoting Health Literacy with Email Engagement

Tuesday, March 29th, 2022

In the final installment of our series on using digital technology for patient engagement, we discuss how email can promote health literacy and help patients manage chronic conditions.

health literacy

Patient Education and Health Literacy

Chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease require a high degree of health literacy to manage effectively at home. Health literacy is the ability to understand, engage, and act upon health information. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found that heart failure patients with lower levels of health literacy saw higher hospital admission and mortality rates. Therefore, boosting levels of health literacy for chronic disease patients is essential to improving health outcomes.

Of course, patient education and health literacy start with the in-person interactions a patient has with their health care provider. However, once a patient leaves the office, education should not stop. Using digital channels to reinforce medical messaging and can help keep patients up to date with developments in their treatment plans and prognosis.

Email is an excellent way to engage patients. It is minimally intrusive and asynchronous, meaning patients can read the material whenever it is convenient for them. Better yet, email messages can be personalized to meet the needs of individual patients with minimal time and effort.

Email Campaign Examples to Promote Health Literacy

To illustrate how email can improve health literacy, let’s take an example. A patient recently diagnosed with diabetes has a lot to learn about managing their health. Diabetes is a chronic condition that requires substantial lifestyle changes. Non-adherence to treatment can have serious consequences, including hospitalization and death. A patient is likely to meet with a health care provider on a regular basis to discuss their treatment plan, but the amount of information can be overwhelming. Sending follow up emails that reiterate important information can help patients understand and absorb the messaging received from their doctor.

Some potential campaign ideas include:

  • how to use insulin pumps
  • managing blood sugar
  • what to do if blood sugar is too low or too high
  • learning about A1C levels
  • information on preventing serious complications
  • information on nutrition and meal planning
  • exercise ideas
  • sharing information about diabetes support groups and events

Being diagnosed with a chronic health condition can have serious mental health impacts. Helping patients feel supported with resources and access to medical information throughout the lifestyle changes is very important.

Personalizing Email Campaigns

Here comes our regular reminder: sending emails that contain ePHI like those mentioned above, need to comply with HIPAA. Once HIPAA requirements are met, organizations can personalize emails with patient data. In addition to sending medical information, campaigns can be personalized further using demographic data.

Patients that suffer from chronic conditions and are members of ethnic minority groups often experience worse health outcomes than their white counterparts. To address health equity issues, use segmentation to target select groups with messaging specific to their needs. This could include creating campaigns in multiple languages, addressing diet and exercise tips in a culturally sensitive way, or providing more resources to help these groups afford testing and insulin.

The power of email personalization allows health care providers to provide accurate and timely information to their patients.

Conclusion

Learning to live with a chronic health condition is not an easy task. To help prevent hospital visits and deteriorating health, promoting health literacy is essential. Supplementing doctor visits with personalized email campaigns can help answer patient questions and help them adjust to living with a chronic illness. Contact LuxSci today if you would like to learn more about HIPAA-compliant email marketing campaigns.

Improve Access to Preventative Healthcare with Email

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

Next up in our series on patient education and engagement, we look at ways to encourage preventative healthcare with digital technologies.

 

Vaccines and Flu Shot Information

It’s challenging to encourage individuals to get a yearly flu shot. There are many reasons that people do not get annual flu shots. Some of these reasons include:

  • not enough time
  • don’t think they need one
  • don’t know where or when to get one

Accordingly, one way to expand outreach efforts is with a series of personalized and educational emails. Using a patient database, it’s easy to identify the patients who are at the highest risk of suffering severe consequences from contracting the flu. Subsequently, the marketing team can put together a series of educational emails that address some of the common questions including:

  • why flu shots are important to public health
  • how to schedule a flu shot appointment
  • promotions to incentivize populations with lower vaccination rates

In addition, patient education can also help combat vaccine misinformation. The Covid-19 vaccine rollout represents a good example. The lack of compelling information from official sources led people to the Internet and social media to search for information about the vaccines. Despite local and national government efforts, the information void was filled by misinformation. Reaching out to patients before they encountered misinformation could have helped increase trust and increased vaccination rates.

Preventative Healthcare Screenings and Testings

Preventative healthcare screenings for cancer, blood pressure, and diabetes are recommended on a yearly basis. Identifying these conditions and treating them early on can drastically improve health outcomes. However, many people do not know when to get screened. Many tests do not apply until patients reach a certain age bracket or if they have certain risk factors. Email campaigns can target patients who meet the criteria for a preventative screening.

Next, let’s look at another example. Breast cancer screenings are recommended for women when they reach 40 years old. A healthcare marketer could create an email campaign to let eligible patients know how to schedule a mammogram. This campaign could provide educational information on why screenings are important, what patients can expect at their mammogram, and how to schedule an appointment. Promotional tactics can also encourage more signups. Early detection of cancer saves lives, and it’s incredibly important to conduct these screenings.

Appointment Scheduling

Furthermore, it is important that patients come in for annual appointments. These appointments are where many screening procedures occur. Skipping an annual appointment can mean missing the early symptoms of a serious health condition. Email campaigns can help close care gaps and encourage patients who have missed appointments to reschedule. Removing barriers to care and increasing the number of communication touch points can improve patient engagement.

The Power of Personalization in Preventative Healthcare

Finally, emails are even more powerful when they are personalized using ePHI. Marketers can use audience segmentation to break down patient populations into distinct groups and create relevant messaging. However, to segment and personalize email marketing messages with ePHI, the organization must use a HIPAA-compliant marketing solution. Read our other blogs for more information on selecting a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform.

By targeting distinct patient groups, marketing teams can create highly relevant messages that increase patient engagement. Let’s take the earlier breast cancer screening campaign example. This campaign is particularly relevant to women in their 40s and 50s who may be unfamiliar with the screening process and how to schedule a mammogram. If this campaign was sent to an entire patient population, it would be confusing and annoying. Young women may mistakenly believe they needed to get screened, and men would be annoyed by the unnecessary email outreach.

Targeting the right population at the right time with the right message is key to marketing success. Using patient data in a safe way allows the marketing team to create highly personalized campaigns that help patients access preventative healthcare.

Conclusion

To conclude, educational email campaigns can encourage patients to access preventative care that they may not know is available. To achieve the best results, marketers can use segmentation and personalization to create highly targeted email campaigns to help patients achieve desired health outcomes. For more information on creating HIPAA-compliant email marketing campaigns, check out LuxSci’s Secure Marketing tool.

Engage Patients with Educational Messaging

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Educating patients about their upcoming medical procedures is an important part of building trust and increasing retention. Using digital technologies to educate patients is just one way to reinforce messaging and improve patient compliance. This article provides some examples of how to digitally engage with patients both before and after undergoing a medical procedure.

patient education

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