5 Principles for Improving Clinician Experience and Satisfaction
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Healthcare organizations struggle to improve work experiences for care teams. Determining the right efforts to drive results represents a daunting but crucial task.
According to Medscape's 2023 Physician Burnout and Depression Report, more than half of physicians in most specialties are reporting burnout and nearly one in four report depression. Taking action has never been more important.
Compounding existing challenges, many clinicians are considering leaving their profession – up to one in four, according to this Bain & Company survey. These disturbing trends are even worse in other clinical roles. A recent survey of more than 1,000 nurses by OnePoll and connectRN found 50 percent are considering leaving their profession within the next few years while 65 percent cited inadequate staffing as one of their biggest frustrations.
Without immediate change, these issues will continue to negatively impact patient care, costs and health outcomes. Professional organizations, like the American Medical Association, recognize the severity of clinician burnout and have proposed a Recovery Plan for America's Physicians. The U.S. Surgeon General also released an Advisory containing steps to address healthcare worker burnout.
In addition to leveraging the resources listed above, healthcare leaders can embrace the following principles to improve the care team experience; attract and retain top doctors, nurses and staff; make the right technology decisions faster; and deliver better patient outcomes.
Healthcare workers are victims of workplace violence five times more than those in other industries, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Personal safety and security are among the most basic human needs. Before tackling higher-level challenges, these needs must be addressed first. A foundation of safety must be established for other interventions to be effective.
Evaluate your organization's ability to observe, prevent and respond to potentially violent situations throughout the entire campus. Establishing and practicing threat management procedures is critical. Implementing key technologies can also significantly assist. Examples include smart cameras leveraging AI for early threat detection and alerting, wearable staff duress "panic button" solutions to call for help, and other technologies.
In addition to ensuring their physical safety, organizations must also protect clinicians from cybersecurity risks. Healthcare is consistently one of the most targeted industries by cyber criminals. Cyberthreats can completely cripple the technologies and access to data that clinicians rely on to care for patients to an extent very few other major disasters can rival. Additionally, breaches put employee information at risk alongside patient information. We've covered the top cybersecurity challenges facing healthcare organizations in this WWT article.
Care teams struggle to balance patient care with the myriad of daily routine tasks. Inefficient, manual workflows prevent clinicians from practicing at the top of their license and are contributing to increasing levels of burnout and dissatisfaction. Frustrations may be amplified by an inability to access meaningful, patient-specific data that is aggregated and presented in an actionable format at the point of care.
Technology selection and design must be inspired by how clinicians think, work and interact with each other. Interviewing care team members is a critical first step. Learn what they feel is working – and what's not – when it comes to their daily work and their interactions with patients and technology. These insights inform dynamic personas, or groupings of employees that share common characteristics, services and requirements. Ensure these dynamic personas for physicians, nurses, pharmacists and allied health professionals include their specific application needs, locations and responsibilities.
Next, create journey maps by shadowing clinicians throughout their day and crafting visualizations of critical workflows and seeing their challenges firsthand. Leveraging these tools helps your organization know precisely where to focus to alleviate the friction negatively impacting clinicians' efforts to deliver patient care. Our consulting teams help with these efforts, speeding the process and improving the results by providing clinicians with anonymity.
Adoption of new processes, solutions and technologies commonly fails when the intended users – your staff and patient care teams - are left out of technology roadmaps and design. When new technologies and processes are introduced, we see them achieve the intended outcomes faster when healthcare organizations proactively gather employee input on the front end and address technology adoption holistically. When staff doesn't fully understand, embrace and utilize technology solutions, it costs more than lost time and resources; it increases clinician frustration and decreases trust.
Including clinicians in the evaluation and selection of technology that will impact their work significantly improves the quality of decisions and likelihood of successful adoption. Involving them can also build alignment between operations, IT and other parts of the organization lasting beyond any specific project. When these groups work together toward a shared vision, it creates harmonious processes that enable faster innovation, drive momentum toward achieving outcomes and allow the organization to thrive.
WWT developed an accelerated, creative and collaborative methodology to engage clinicians in the innovation process. Our Innovation Sprint engagement model leverages empathy-building facilitated ideation exercises to imagine and prioritize potential solutions.
The relationship between the care team and patient remains the heart of healthcare. As they receive care, patients interact with many different members of the care team. As they deliver care each day, every care team member interacts with many patients. It's no surprise that clinician experiences and patient experiences influence and have amplified effects on each other. Deeply understanding one requires understanding both.
Prioritizing improvements in areas negatively impacting both patient experiences and care team experiences often yields the greatest results. System, process and technology issues collectively impact experience. For example, workflows that slow physicians and nurses down create longer wait times for patients and significant dissatisfaction for both groups.
Utilizing the same methods to understand patient experiences (persona creation, journey mapping and inclusion in decisions) helps complete the picture, yielding greater understanding for the organization. While uncovering problem areas, don't lose focus on "bright spots" – areas where things are working well that should not be interrupted and provide examples of "what good looks like." Our WWT consulting specialists bring knowledge and experience from within healthcare and across other industries to facilitate, enhance and streamline these endeavors.
Each hospital and health system faces similar challenges when working to improve care delivery experience and clinician burnout. Learning about interventions that are working well in other organizations yields a wealth of information and helps inform better decisions. Though every organization is distinct, learning about efforts that failed to improve clinician experience elsewhere helps to save time and resources and avoids pitfalls.
Using other organizations and their successful initiatives as benchmarks helps ensure efforts stay on track and that you achieve the intended improvements. While other healthcare organizations are obvious choices, many other industries are addressing similar problems in their workforces. Broadening your aperture beyond healthcare brings a fresh perspective and more innovations into your process and improves your rate of success.
Leveraging partners who work across the healthcare industry and across other industries yields rapid access to recommendations. WWT brings these insights to our customers through conversations with our industry team members and through collaboration opportunities like our Customer Advisory Councils and Business Innovation Summits.
Individual solutions can't fix the systematic issues impacting clinician experience. It's up to healthcare leaders to identify, understand and address the many challenges clinicians face in their daily work in a comprehensive strategy to reduce burnout, improve retention, lower costs and deliver a better care environment for employees and patients alike.
WWT can help. Our real-world healthcare expertise enables us to create and execute fresh experiences for clinicians and patients. From strategy development through solution creation and implementation, we partner with health systems of all sizes, hospitals and healthcare solution providers to reimagine how technology can make clinicians' lives easier.