It is no secret that working in the healthcare industry can be stressful and at times overwhelming. More and more, we’re seeing that medical staff are experiencing high levels of burnout, with a USA Today-Ipsos study finding that 52% of healthcare workers surveyed reported feeling “burned out”.1 This is in part due to the rapid and unpredictable changes brought forth by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which not only shook the industry to it’s core, but also created long-term cascading issues with retention, hiring and work-life balance.
Healthcare executives are acutely aware of this “new normal” – so it’s no surprise that, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives annual survey, most CEOs ranked burnout among non-physician staff as one of their top-priorities.2
In order to address burnout, we need to first get to the root of what’s causing it – and then, work together to identify new solutions.
What is burnout and how do healthcare staff feel?
According to the American Medical Association, burnout is a long-term stress reaction which can include emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and decreased personal achievement.3 Moreover, feeling burnt out isn’t something people can just overcome on a whim. Often, it is a combination of psychological and physical responses to stressors that can impact people’s ability to work effectively even in periods of reduced stress.
We can all agree– burnout has become such a blanket term, that it’s become especially important for us to recognize that in order to help those feeling this way, we need to get to the core of what is causing it.
One of the key issues identified by healthcare workers is being short-staffed. In a recent survey conducted by CareCredit, a Synchrony solution, both decision makers and general employees cited this as an issue that needs addressing. Among both groups, less than half of those surveyed feel they are adequately staffed and are equally as likely to feel stressed and tired as a result of their jobs.4
Additionally, when general employees were surveyed, many stated that while they are overall satisfied with their job, they also feel they are undervalued and are not compensated adequately. As a result of these feelings of being undervalued, 1 in 3 general employees have thought about quitting.4
What can be done to resolve these issues?
Healthcare executives are keenly aware of these issues, and to help address them, are focused on reevaluating workplace culture. “I think all organizations experience burnout to some degree — and without a good leader, it can be very challenging for teams,” said Beto Casellas, CEO and EVP, Health and Wellness at Synchrony. “In terms of proactively combatting burnout among our team at Synchrony specifically, a big part of that I believe, is company culture.”
This is one area we’ve successfully made progress in at our own organization, by prioritizing our employees mental and physical health with our employee assistance program. As a result, all U.S. Synchrony employees and their families are provided unlimited and free one-on-one virtual sessions with wellness coaches. Additionally, we introduced flexible work schedules and provide resources on topics such as parenting, finances and legal information.
Other leaders looking to make changes may want to consider reaching out to their employees to see if the values their company aims to operate on are being put in practice. This could be in the form of an anonymous survey, a staff townhall, or integrated as part of regular performance check-ins. Giving your staff a chance to provide direct feedback can improve your culture and entice new hires, while helping retain current staff.
CareCredit survey respondents also shared their desire for new technology and more training for staff to help with operations efficiency. Based on the CWH Advisors PatientPay 2022 survey, more providers are already looking to increase technology to help automate processes.5 If a payment system can be shifted from, for example, in-person co-payments to offering payment online also, those few minutes compounded over many, many patients can be redirected towards other meaningful activities. Burnout can come even from these smaller repetitive tasks, so any time “given back” is a benefit to your staff.
PatientPay2022 also showed us that providers are also focused on outsourcing tasks in order to help address issues as a result of staffing shortages.5 We know payments have always been complex and the pandemic only exacerbated this. When it comes to enhancing the payments process, the right third-party partner can make a huge difference. For example, when patients pay with the CareCredit health and wellness credit card, your practice gets paid in two business days – speeding up cash flow, and minimizing accounts receivable and administrative burden.
As practices slowly recover from the damage caused by the pandemic, the insights we discussed will be key to building a better work environment for current and prospective employees. For leaders, there is no time like the present to reflect on the systems you have in place and see what you can change for the better. Your staff are in this field for the satisfaction of helping others,4 so looking after their needs is also looking after those of your patients.
To learn more about how integrating CareCredit as a third-party financing partner can help empower your organization and your patients, visit carecredit.com/chiefhealthcare
This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual advisors and/or medical providers with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit, (collectively, “Synchrony”) makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accepts no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.