If you follow or pay attention to news regarding healthcare you may have noticed a recurring theme.
That theme is burnout.
Since the beginning of the pandemic and up to now there has been a steady stream of articles and think pieces on the topic of burnout. This is an important topic that needs to be addressed on the individual level.
But what, exactly, does impact mean for you and your practice? More importantly, what can be done to combat it?
First let’s examine the financial impact that burnout may be having on your practice.
- Increased Mistakes – When someone is burned out, there is an increased chance of a mistake being made. That mistake might be something simple like a coding error all the way to something that can cause serious harm to a patient. In any case when a mistake is made resources must be devoted to correcting those mistakes. This costs you time and money. And if a mistake is serious enough to cause harm to a patient, then there could be legal ramifications.
- Poor Customer Service – Let’s face it, working with patients everyday is tough work. Providing excellent customer service is difficult, even when you are feeling at the top of your game. Factor in a little, or a lot of, burnout and it becomes almost impossible. Providing good customer service is essential when it comes to growing your practice. If your patients feel they are not being treated properly, they are more likely to look elsewhere for care. Worse, they will tell their friends and family and potentially leave negative online reviews. You will slowly begin to lose patients and it will become harder to attract new ones.
- Low Morale and Employee Turnover – One particularly insidious effect of burnout is low morale. This is because it is not always evident. It generally happens over time and it can only take one or two staff members to bring everyone down. Slowly your once happy and productive staff becomes sullen and less efficient. This is where you will likely see more mistakes and a lower level of customer service. Over time people on your staff may choose to look for employment elsewhere. Not only will you lose the productivity of an experienced staff member, but now you have to spend time and money hiring someone new.
Now that we have looked at how burnout affects the bottomline of your practice, let’s take a look at how you might fight back against it.
- Encourage Time Off – If you offer paid time off, encourage your staff to take those days off. Even if you don’t, make sure your staff members are able to enjoy their time off by not calling them on their off days or letting them take work home. Limit, or even eliminate, staff members from coming in on their days off. Not that this should be stated after a global pandemic, but if an employee is sick make sure they stay home till they are better. The goal here is to have your staff live a life outside of work.
- Encourage Healthy Habits – Help your employees live a healthier lifestyle by encouraging healthy habits. This can be done by designating a day of the week to be “Healthy Food Only” or a challenge where everyone walks around the block or takes the stairs, Encourage drinking water and getting sleep.
- Communicate, Communicate Communicate – If you see someone struggling, pull them aside and talk to them. See if there is anything that can be done to help them out. Even if you do not see someone struggling, make sure your staff knows that you have an open door. Let your staff know you are there to hear them speak, even if it is to vent for a couple of minutes.
The last two and half years have been difficult for many in the healthcare industry. The topic of burnout is probably not going to be going anywhere anytime soon. So it is important for you to understand how it may impact your practice and what you can do to help mitigate the potential negative effects.