ClickCare Café

Why Healthcare Provider Burnout May Be Easier To Solve Than You Thought

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, May 24, 2016 @ 07:30 AM

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A working mom of four did an experiment, recently. She kept track of her time, and not just most of her time. 61% of working Americans said they did not have enough timer to do the things they wanted to do. So to understand that dynamic and see where all that time is really going, she tracked every minute of her days, in half-hour increments, for an entire year. As you can imagine, it was an illuminating exercise.

In analyzing her results, in addition to analyzing those of dozens of other people, she came to some interesting conclusions: 

  • Most people perceive that they work much longer hours than they actually work.
  • Most people perceive that they are far busier - and have far less discretionary time than they actually have.

She calls it the "busy person's lies" -- those stories we tell ourselves about the choices we do and don't have when it comes to spending our time.  And it made me think of the things doctors perceive about how we spend our time -- both overall and hour to hour in our medical practices. We feel constantly stressed, constantly too busy, constantly too overloaded to consider doing anything new or taking anything else on. 

The point isn't that we're not doing a lot. Doctors remain the hardest working people I've ever met. It is emotionally, spiritually, physically, and intellectually taxing work. Plus, doctors have less choice than most professionals do. There is still a factory mentality in medicine that tries to squeeze every spare minute and bit of energy from doctors, such that they have very little time, energy, or bandwidth.

Which, of course, leads to half of doctors being burned out, "being emotionally exhausted, feeling detached from their patients and work or suffering from a low sense of accomplishment." . And of course, the data supports what you feel -- healthcare provider burnout is just getting worse. 

But just as Ms. Vanderkam's study suggests, it's possible that as doctors, just as people, we don't need more hours in the day. We need more satisfaction and contribution in the hours we have. An AMA study showed that of all the interventions for decreasing healthcare provider burnout, the two things that are actually needed to move the needle on burnout are: 

  • Enough one-on-one time with patients.
  • A sense that you've done a good job.

You paid decades of training and hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational expenses to become a healthcare provider-- there is no point giving up now, when it comes to your own sense of contribution and satisfaction. So what is a doctor to do, once she has acknowledged that she wants more contribution, meaning, and control over the hours she spends at work? 

It might might just be to make sure she has the tools she needs to do exactly that -- she just doesn't realize it yet. 

As Dr. Khullar shares, we may be frustrated in part because we are not harnessing the right tools to really support ourselves in doing the kind of medicine we want to do. "We’re educated largely in a biomedical framework," he explains. "We diagnose disease with textbook knowledge and prescribe medications because those are the hammers we have." Khullar goes on to say that both we as providers and our patients would be better served by finding new tools, within the same minutes per visit, the same hours in a day, doing things like "leading interdisciplinary care teams; employing new technologies and methods of patient engagement like telemedicine; and appreciating how health systems fit together to influence an individual patient’s care — from home care and community centers to clinics and hospitals."

As Ms. Vanderkam quotes Natalie Henderson, a pediatric I.C.U. fellow at the University of Louisville’s Kosair Children’s Hospital: “Time goes, no matter what you do. I’m covetous of the time I have. I want to make sure I use it more wisely.”



Is contribution and overcoming healthcare provider burnout part of what you want your hours to add up to?

ClickCare Quick Guide to Telemedicine

Learn how telemedicine can help you connect more, contribute more, and make the most of the minutes you spend with patients. 

Tags: telemedicine, healthcare provider burnout, telemedicine solutions, healthcare collaboration

What the New Schizophrenia Findings Prove About Telemedicine

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Feb 02, 2016 @ 07:00 AM

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I believe that almost every single healthcare provider has gone into medicine because they deeply want to help people. Whether they want to help as a nurse or a surgeon or an administrator- the desire the care and contribute is the same.

It's pretty easy to forget, though. As we've shared in the past, more than 50% of healthcare providers show signs of burnout. And, to be honest, I'm almost surprised the stats are that low, when I hear the experience and cynicism of so many of my colleagues.

The wear and drain and stress of daily work in medicine is enough to make anyone forget the original impetus of the work. It's easy enough to think that the goal is some incremental improvement. A little bigger productivity bonus. A slightly shorter wait time in the waiting room. A bit higher patient satisfaction numbers.

But then something comes along and reminds us that incremental improvements are not the only option that exists.

Just last week, scientists found the molecular process in the brain that helps trigger schizophrenia. This isn't a small shift in the disease -- it changes everything. Steven Hyman, director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute at MIT, called it "the most significant mechanistic study about schizophrenia ever." He said, "I’m a crusty, old, curmudgeonly skeptic. But I’m almost giddy about these findings."

And that's exactly what healthcare collaboration and telemedicine can be -- something that healthcare providers get giddy over. These are not small process improvements -- they're fundamental shifts in the way medicine can happen. It's not a little bit better treatment for a patient -- it's a radically different outcome. It's not a tiny bit more satisfaction or a minute of saved time for a doctor -- it's a return to the reason you went to medical school.

Our colleagues in telemedicine and who are collaborating are creating a new era of medicine. An era in which the old puzzles and conundrums may indeed become obsolete as radical changes make something new possible. And we believe that this finding on schizophrenia, telemedicine platforms, and courageous providers are all part of that process.

 

To hear about the kinds of huge changes that can come with medical collaboration, get our free ebook: 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, medical collaboration software, healthcare provider burnout, healthcare collaboration

The Data Supports What You Feel: Healthcare Provider Burnout is Worse

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

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Around this time of year, many professionals start feeling a little burned out. The work mounts, you always have to do extra before and after vacation, and many of us feel we need a vacation from our vacation. 

Healthcare providers, it turns out, really have it worst than most, however. In 2011, the Mayo Clinic did a study of healthcare provider burnout and found that the situation was dire, with about 45% of providers showing signs of burnout. 

The bad news, however, is that it's only getting worse. The study was repeated in 2015, and findings were that close to 55% of providers are burned out. And, of course, medicine can't be performed effectively when medical providers are deeply unhappy or just not at their best. 

So what can be done in a situation that seems only to worsen with each passing year? Well, there are a lot of myths about the origins and consequences of the burnout situation in medicine. But, as the Mayo Clinic study, points out, there are some very real and concrete possibilities when it comes to positive impacting this dynamic.

Most saliently -- removing some of the obstacles that provdiers face in doing their job. The things that jump out to us the key ways this needs to happen are: 

  • Improve workflow. As the study reports, "The consensus on a possible solution points to first improving the clerical and procedural efficiencies associated with a medical practice.”
  • Make it easier to do the healthcare collaboration so necessary to care coordination and cost decreases. Find a simple, telemedicine-based solution to do healthcare collaboration on your schedule, with hardware you already have. It's key to care coordination, it's key to feeling connected and in control, and it's key to keeping costs and good care under control.
  • Take the time you need to rest and refresh. It's not ever easy and it's not always possible, but when you are able to take time for yourself -- do it.

 

This week, we're wishing you a bit of breathing room in one of the hardest jobs around. We certainly applaud your efforts -- and we're in the trenches with you. Click to read a bit of inspiration on your colleagues who are also fighting the odds to do healthcare collaboration:

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

 

 

Tags: telemedicine, healthcare provider burnout, provider burnout

3 Healthcare Collaboration Lessons for Long Term Care

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Jun 03, 2015 @ 10:21 AM

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We heard a story recently about a day program for older adults called the Wellness and Arts Center at Iona Senior Services in Washington, DC.

This is the type of thoughtful service that is run all over the country by caring providers. It's for people who can still live on their own but need or want help, companionship, or meaningful activities during the day. It's one of those ordinary, extraordinary social services that are being created day in and day out.

We happened to hear about this program recently, though, and we were inspired about a couple of the specifics. These lessons resonated with us as important practices in long term care, and in healthcare collaboration (especially using telemedicine) in general.

3 healthcare collaboration lessons you can take from this adult day services program:

Involve the whole family.
In the case of Vivian Weeks, she was involved in her care, as was her niece, her care givers, and other family members. We created iClickCare to be intentionally inclusive. If you're looking for a telemedicine platfrom to support healthcare collaboration, look for one that gives you the ability to effectively include the family in the collaboration group. 

Prioritize connection and communication.
Just as the participants in the Iona program need human companionship during the day to be happy and healthy, medical providers need to communication with each other. We've known this: research shows that people with strong ties to family and friends have a 50% lower chance of dying during a given period. Similarly, human connection can help medical providers prevent burnout. Medical care -- especially long term care -- can be isolating, so you have to intentionally seek out connection. 

Good long-term care attends to happiness, too.
At Iona, they have art therapy in addition to physical therapy because our abillity to thrive goes beyond just the "medical" aspects of our care. For that reason, we encourage iClickCare users to involved doctors, nurses, but also teachers and therapists into the collaboration for a given patient. Just as good long term care also cares for the social components of a patient's wellness, we believe that a good collaboration platform should support the collaboration of all of the people who contribute to that wellness.

Interested in using telemedicine for healthcare collaboration in long term care? Get our free ebook here: 

 

Transforming Long Term Care Through Telemedicine

 

 

 

Photo used under Creative Commons rights from gazeronly on Flickr

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, healthcare provider burnout, long term care, healthcare collaboration

What a Clinic in Amish Country Taught Us About Telemedicine

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 02:51 PM

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As a small business trying to change healthcare, we're always on the lookout for interesting stories of regular folks banding together to make the world a better -- and healthier -- place. We're always inspired by passionate providers, thoughtful business models, and quality care in under-resourced settings.

Recently, we came across an especially inspiring practice for, well, all of the above reasons: the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Founded by a husband and wife team with nontraditional backgrounds, the Clinic for Special Children serves a primarily Amish community, the members of which suffer disproportionately from genetic disorders. This nonprofit practice is cozied between several farms and looks more like a warm home than a cutting-edge resource facility. The research is assuredly cutting edge however: they've published papers on dozens of topics that push medicine forward.

Just as innovative as the research, though, are the ways that the Clinic for Special Children engages and serves their community. The clinic itself was put up in an Amish "barn raising" and fees are accessible, straightforward, and partially reduced by an annual quilt auction. 

“Special children are not just interesting medical problems, subjects of grants and research. Nor should they be called burdens to their families and communities. They are children who need our help, and if we allow them to, they will teach us compassion. They are children who need our help, and if we allow them to, they will teach us love. If we come to know these children as we should, they will make us better scientists, better physicians, and thoughtful people.” - D. Holmes Morton, Co-founder of the Clinic for Special Children

We applaud Caroline and D. Holmes Morton for what they've created -- it's a quiet inspiration and a model for the ways medicine can exist at the nexus of traditional values, cutting edge approaches, and brave creativity.

In particular, we identified a few key lessons from the Mortons' work in Lancaster that apply to most medical providers, but especially those leading the way with telemedicine:

  • A small group of people can do great things. When telemdicine programs start, the "program"  is often no more than a couple of medical providers taking matters into their own hands, and using a tool to collaborate. As the Clinic for Special Children shows, though, it's not a huge number of people that adds up to innovation or impact -- it's a small number of people that care a lot.
  • Healthcare and common sense can coexist. Reimbursements for telemedicine are increasing exponentially, and the "rational" reasons to collaborate and use telemedicine are mounting. Ultimately, though, common sense rules the day. Just as the Clinic for Special Children has a super-simple funding and fee model, we can always choose to say "forget it" to the administrative, insurance, and bureaucratic nightmares and choose telemedicine because it makes good sense to us. 
  • Ultimately, we're responsible. There is always a reason that something can't be done. And certainly, starting a cutting edge research laboratory in the middle of farmland, that is primarily funded through small patient fees and quilt proceeds, is one of those things that seems impossible. We've seen telemedicine, great care, and medical collaboration thrive in some similarly adverse circumstances. And whatever the circumstances, we're the people who are responsible for our patients' care -- and we're the ones who can make it great.

Want to hear more stories of innovation and collaboration? 

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

 

Image courtesy of ccpcphotography on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, healthcare provider burnout, good medicine, healthcare collaboration

A Medical Blind Spot You May Not Know You Have

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 @ 07:30 AM

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These days, medical providers have to tend to a lot of moving pieces, just to ensure they're keeping pace with the expectations of their institution, insurance companies, and the government -- not to mention providing good care. For instance, these are just a few of the things we providers are held to: 

  • Length of stay in the hospital
  • Readmissions
  • ROI
  • Cost effectiveness of the care
  • The "triple aim:" patient experience of care, health of populations, and per-capita cost.

In all of these metrics and objectives, there is someone conspicuously absent: the medical provider. 

Whether you are a nurse, WOCN, specialist, or general physician, it would seem from this common list of priorities that you are, well, not a priority. A great recent article on Fierce Practice Management challenged this omission. The article cites a recent study by Bodenheimer, MD and Sinsky, MD that suggests healthcare provider burnout is severe, widespread, and significantly influences the quality of medical care: "The industry can't achieve the Triple Aim's core ideals--providing better care, improving population health, and lowering costs--without first improving the work life of healthcare providers."

Of course, healthcare provider burnout affects one of every two providers, and we've written extensively about how medical collaboration and telemedicine can help to ameliorate it. But this study is one of the the first times that we've heard incisive commentary on why improving burnout for providers is crucial to our overall goals for healthcare. In other words, how happy and healthy medical providers are is crucial to whether their patients will get good care. As the study authors confirm:

"Healthcare is a relationship between those who provide care and those who seek care, a relationship that can only thrive if it is symbiotic, benefiting both parties."

We've always known that the patient can't thrive when the provider is suffering and that the provider can't thrive unless her patients are healthy and successful. Now, we're starting to see the evidence for it. 

Want a 1-minute break? Watch our video on iClickCare to learn how it can help improve outcomes:
Watch the iClickCare One Minute Video

 

Image courtesy of schnappischnap on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: telemedicine roi, healthcare provider burnout, provider burnout, good medicine, regulatory issues, medical provider burnout

Barriers to Medical Collaboration Are Barriers to Good Care

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 @ 11:12 AM

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Even my 4-year-old granddaughter knows what a silo is: the iconic brick, wood, concrete, or metal structure that keeps one harvest from another on a farm. With all the change in agriculture, we would actually be hard pressed to find a farm with the iconic silo, but still. 

The silos in health care are infamous, rather than iconic. The physical barriers are reinforced with regulatory barriers, time constraints, virtual constraints, and -- most unfortunately -- attitudes.

Look around you and notice all of the physical constraints. Do you remember them being as pervasive even just a few years ago?

  • Key cards
  • Locked file rooms
  • Locked drawers
  • ID cards
  • Files face-down
  • Disconnected hallways
  • Tree lined atrium replaced by cubicled offices
  • Windows blocked by required notices
  • Distances across town, across farmland, or just down the hall
  • Diverse institutions. Long Term Care, Home Care and Hospitals

Of course, with technology so integrated with our days, there are also the virtual barriers we experience:

  • Log ons and passwords
  • Telephone tag
  • Not enough integration
  • Too much integration and too much data
  • Packed email boxes

And, saddest of all, we have attitudes that separate us:

  • Not my job.
  • Competition. True story, overheard at a medical meeting in an urban center.... Older chairman of department to you surgeon: “Yes, I will grant you privileges, as long as you just do emergencies and never do cosmetic surgery. Welcome.”
  • Outside of my scope of practice.
  • I’m not allowed to do that.  
  • I’m just doing what I am told.
  • I’m not comfortable with that.
  • I don’t do that often enough.
  • That is too time consuming. 
  • Medicine is a business. It needs to be run like Disney.

It is not enough to blog about it. It is not enough to complain. Each of us should do something, but where should we start? "We" meaning all of us; lab techs, aides, super-specialists, advanced practice nurses, doctors of what ever board certified -ology should get started!

We are not going to change HIPAA and the legions of other state and federal regulations, at least not right away. There are not enough of us to protest (maybe there are and we merely need the 17 year old Hong Kong activist to lead us). We will not get doors unlocked, IDs removed, logons discarded. So, the only thing left, and indeed the core of the problem, is our attitude. We need to regard the patient as our responsibility, not our institution's responsibility. We need more us and we, and less them and you in our language and in our thought. We need technology that promotes these good attitudes, not technology that blocks them. We need technology that empowers action based on these attitudes, not technology that dispirits them.

 

Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine Can Help Defeat Silos. Here's how:


ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward


Image courtesy of docsearls on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: medical collaboration, coordinated care, medical collaboration software, communication with patients, healthcare provider burnout, HIPAA Collaboration, care coordination

Why Physicians Assistants Are Key to Medical Collaboration

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 @ 08:17 AM

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One of the fundamental values of ClickCare is that all parts of the medical team -- the patient, the family, and medical providers across the spectrum of care -- are crucial to healing and good care.

So as Physician Assistants Week wraps up, we wanted to take a moment to congratulate all physician assistants for the job that they do, day in and day out.

Physicians Assistants understand the need to collaborate as well as anyone. As they grow and expand from office to community and integrate and coordinate care, they are increasingly burdened with time wastage and hassle when medical providers don't communicate.

So thank a Physicians Assistant today. In doing so, remember that the medical team is a team made up of many kinds of providers. And we all need to work together for any of us to succeed.

 

Wondering whether you can use your smartphone in the medical setting? Get our free guide to secure "Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)" policies here:

iClickCare IS BYOD Secure

 

 

Image courtesy of marine_corps on Flickr, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: telemedicine, collaboration, healthcare provider burnout, care coordination, healthcare collaboration, store and forward medical collaboration, Physician Assistant

4 Easy Ways to Try Telemedicine Before Lunchtime

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Fri, Feb 07, 2014 @ 09:15 AM

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We've been hearing from a lot of people that they want to give telemedicine a try. Many providers have been noticing the overall thriving of the field. Others are drawn in by data showing collaboration (especially using telemedicine) can decrease length of stay, cut readmissions, and improve rates of healthcare provider burnout. 

But despite the interest in medical collaboration with telemedicine, many people aren't sure where to start. We're the first to admit that it can feel overwhelming to pick up a new tool or adopt a new habit!

So here are 4 easy ways you can try telemedicine before the day is over:

  • Start with someone you know and trust. Think of the last colleague -- it might be a nurse, doctor, or other provider -- that you had a great conversation with or who solved a problem with you. That's the person with whom to try telemedicine and collaboration. Start with people you already know and trust, and grow your collaborative circle from there. 
  • Keep it simple. Even chatting with a colleague about their day can open the door to problem-solving, so that is a great place to start. And when you are ready to collaborate using telemedicine, start with a simple case. You can always build up to consults on your most complex case, but getting a consult or two on more basic issues lets you build up confidence. That way, when you do reach out about a tricky patient, you're not worried about the telemedicine piece of it.
  • Organize a “cool case” breakfast or lunch. We used to take medical students out to egg sandwiches before work to discuss unusual cases and share stories. While this isn't technically telemedicine, it is definitely collaboration -- and that is the important part. 
  • Try iClickCare for free. You can start inviting colleagues, sharing cases, and connecting for a couple of weeks with no cost and no complicated set-up.


Plus, we put together a couple of "quick guides" to telemedicine and medical collaboration, and we're offering them for free -- so take your pick and get started.

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Telemedicine

ClickCare Quick Guide to Medical Collaboration

 

 

Image courtesy of svoalex on flickr.com, used under Creative Commons rights.

Tags: collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, medical collaboration software, healthcare provider burnout, telemedicine solutions, collaboration leadership, care coordination, healthcare collaboration, decrease readmissions, decrease length of stay

The Best Medical Apps to Decrease Provider Burnout

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 @ 08:39 AM

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With all the gift guides flying around the internet this time of year, our thoughts turned to the "gifts" that help us do our work better. Especially during the holiday season, handy tools like smartphone apps can contribute to decreasing provider burnout, a more easeful day, and better patient satisfaction.

As we quizzed our colleagues and dug into the research, we found some interesting trends when it comes to the best medical apps, especially in relation to making your day easier and helping to cut provider burnout:

  • People still aren't paying attention to HIPAA. Many people continue to use email, text messaging, and the in-phone camera roll, despite the consequences. Our observation is that apps that aren't HIPAA-compliant actually increase burnout, with the extra worry and stress they cause.
  • The humblest apps are the most used. We found that despite the hundreds of complicated apps that exist, the most commonly used are the simplest -- a finding that definitely resonates with our own experience. Sometimes you just need the easiest tool, not the most sophisticated one.

In thinking about the best medical apps to recommend, there are some surprising ones on the list. Here's our rundown, to help make your workday as healthcare providers a little saner -- or even more fun:

  • Apps that help you care for patients. There are all kinds of complicated patient communication systems, but some of our favorite apps are simple tools that make it easier to communicate with patients, even when you're in the same room together. Often called "point of care education," these apps range from games to sophisticated modeling programs. Software Advice, a company that reviews medical software, recently put together a list of doctor-recommended education apps that make visits more effective.
  • Evernote for studiers. Our medical students may be the most common studiers that use Evernote to keep their thoughts -- and notes -- together. But we all have times when we're "studying," whether for a new research project or to investigate something for our office. Evernote is our favorite study tool, easily syncing across devices and cutting the stress that comes from losing notes.
  • Apps for collaborating. Call us biased, but we prefer the label "innovators." Our iClickCare app is still the best, easiest-to-use, medical collaboration app, hands-down. For other kinds of collaboration (document-based and not HIPAA-compliant), like intra-office collaboration on logistics, we look to 37 Signals.
  • Oldies but goodies. Everyone knows Epocrates, and for good reason. The app has turned into our medical dictionary, calculator, and encyclopedia -- quickly becoming indespensable.
  • Simple browsers. Mobile Safari ends up being the app we use the most. Why? It's adaptable to what we need. Whether it's easily finding a resource for a patient, looking up an address, or learning more about a certain condition, we find that having the "internet in our pocket" makes our lives flow more easily.
  • Simple ways to connect with family. As our work lives get crazier, it seems even more important to stay in touch with our loved ones. We love FaceTime for virtual snacktime with a granddaughter, a chat with a spouse, or a check-in with a colleague. And never forget about the power of simply picking up the phone to connect with a friend, family member, or teammate at work! 

Let us know which apps make your life easier. And for our guide to the world of telemedicine (apps and beyond), click here: 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Telemedicine

Tags: healthcare provider burnout, provider burnout, telemedicine solutions, iPhone medical apps, telemedicine and hippa, best medical apps

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