Healthcare faces a critical worker shortage in the U.S. This crisis is a complex issue exacerbated by factors such as an aging population, the pandemic, and a lack of investment in training and development programs.
Health systems are having trouble retaining nurses and other care providers. Recent research suggests that one significant reason for record turnover has to do with increasingly stressful work environments. Balancing an ever-growing list of routine tasks with filling in gaps from physicians leaving the field entirely has led to rising levels of burnout among healthcare professionals. It’s a vicious cycle that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
So how do health systems support their care teams to have better experiences on the job — and ultimately retain them — as employee retention in healthcare becomes more challenging?
Let’s dive into how effective intelligent care enablement technology can help reinforce your organization’s retention efforts and support your workforce to do more with less.
1. Reduce in-basket messages for your care team
Of all the drivers of clinician burnout, one takes the cake: administrative burden in healthcare. Routine tasks like inputting data and reviewing charts take up a large chunk of the day. Naturally, an August 2022 Doximity poll finds physicians cite reducing administrative work in clinical workflows as the best way to reduce burnout.
One aspect of administrative work in particular — managing a high volume of in-basket messages from patients — stands out as a notable contributor to burnout. So how can healthcare leaders help ease this burden, especially as EHRs prove to add more work to clinicians’ plates?
The answer is to adopt intelligent care enablement. This digital healthcare technology helps streamline clinical workflows by combining functions of automation with support from innovative AI and natural language processing (NLP). The best intelligent care enablement platforms equip patients with virtual assistants that can answer basic care-related questions without the need for human input. This could greatly reduce the amount of in-basket messages providers see on a daily basis, giving clinicians precious time back in their days to focus on delivering top-of-license care.
2. Intelligently follow up with patients without care team intervention
Following up with patients after visits is a necessary responsibility for care team members. Research from the last decade has consistently linked thorough follow-up protocols to better health outcomes. And, after all, people go to medical school to help patients, not to do paperwork.
That being said, telephone follow-up might be ineffective when it comes to delivering high-touch care support. One study found many phone calls go unanswered, and verbal phone correspondence is only feasible early on after discharge. For clinicians, follow-up is unfortunately another daily task to add to the list. And with patient volumes increasing as the U.S. population ages, keeping up with adequate follow-up routines is becoming increasingly difficult for providers.
Intelligent care enablement can help with this aspect of care delivery. Arming care teams with AI-supported automation, this digital healthcare technology can check in with patients while requiring minimal work hours from clinical staff. And, since patients can ask these interfaces questions about symptoms, medications, and appointments, doctors have more time to address the most acute care episodes — and possibly decompress between patient visits.
3. Simplify transitions of care
Care teams do a lot to help their patients through transitions from the hospital to another setting or to a different provider. But people don’t always experience successful transitions of care. And inadequate support during these vulnerable moments can lead to unnecessary readmissions, harm for patients, and more strain on health systems.
One way intelligent care enablement platforms can help support safe transitions of care is by providing intuitive tools to augment care coordination. After discharge, patients can receive automated check-ins on their phones. Those patients who need help can be intelligently routed to their care team, and forward-thinking interfaces empower clinicians to tag appropriate care team members at the click of a button. In turn, assigned physicians can review a patient’s medical history, remote monitoring data, and responses to automated correspondences — giving them thorough information even before engaging their patient.
By simplifying hand-offs from one doctor to another, intelligent care enablement can take another unknown out of the equation and support safer transitions.
4. Reinforce important care journey information
After patients leave the hospital, they often have more questions than answers. This can lead to confusion during care journeys about medication schedules, managing symptoms, and scheduling follow-up appointments. As a result, people send messages to their providers, book new appointments, or even readmit themselves — leading to more in-basket clutter, a heavier patient volume mainlined to already-stressed providers, and possible reductions in Medicare payouts at the hospital level.
With the help of NLP, we can prevent most of these instances. Intelligent care enablement platforms are supported by AI to hold patients’ hands through complex questions about symptoms, ambiguities about medication regimens, and when to see the doctor next. And the most innovative interfaces can decipher and answer patient inquiries regardless of the user’s dialect or writing style.
Beyond reacting to prompts, advanced intelligent care enablement technology can take a proactive approach, too. Specifically, innovations backed by clinical expertise independently reach out to patients after surgeries, childbirth, and other episodes of care with critical information that can help people heal at home.
Of all the digital healthcare innovations in development, intelligent care enablement stands on its own as a unique problem-solver for stakeholders across the care continuum. AI-supported technology can help clinicians by taking routine tasks off of their plates and more stress off of their shoulders. And with fewer concerns about administrative duties, our talented clinicians can get back to looking more patients in the eye and focusing on recharging to continue pursuing a lifelong commitment to delivering quality care.