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How Manual Patient Engagement Can Contribute to Staff Burnout

By Ryan Vowles, Marketing Manager

Healthcare staff burnout and dissatisfaction are pressing concerns for increasingly resource-constrained hospitals and health systems. Both clinical and non-clinical staff have cited complaints like equipment shortages, long working hours, financial pressures, and even technology and workflow frustrations. Because of this, many healthcare leaders are looking to technology to alleviate burdens that contribute to burnout and help prevent turnover.

One area that can add to staff workload at your organization is patient engagement. Traditionally, these activities involve routine tasks related to everyday outreach, including recall for wellness and preventive care, pre- and post-procedure communications, appointment management, and referrals.

However, technology exists today to streamline patient engagement workflows and automate multi-step processes. This approach gives time back to healthcare teams and has added benefits of improving the patient experience while closing care gaps.

The problem with manual patient engagement

Schedulers, support staff, and clinicians are just a few of the individuals who are likely overburdened with efforts related to patient engagement. For example, the workflow to recall patients due or overdue for a mammogram has traditionally required multiple steps:

  1. Exporting data or otherwise identifying patients who need mammograms
  2. Gathering patient records and contact information
  3. Making an initial phone call and potentially leaving a voicemail
  4. Following up with another call, as needed
  5. Sending a notice via the patient portal
  6. Answering inbound calls from patients
  7. Setting and inputting appointments
  8. Supporting patient rescheduling and cancelation requests or managing no-shows

Needless to say, these tasks quickly add to the already long to-do lists of staff members. But the time-consuming back-and-forth of manual communication can also frustrate patients. The convenience of accessing other goods and services, like in retail and banking, has impacted consumers’ healthcare expectations. These individuals want a faster, more personalized experience and prefer to communicate through more familiar channels, like text.

Why health systems are turning to automation and digital patient engagement

Healthcare organizations are certainly focused on the patient experience and changing consumer expectations, but they also are tasked with preventing staff burnout and turnover before it happens. Because of this, some have adopted automated patient engagement to minimize many of the laborious administrative tasks bogging down their teams. They’re accomplishing this through a technology-enabled approach that consolidates the above multi-step process into fewer tasks—without requiring hands-on intervention. This process works by leveraging a patient engagement platform deeply embedded within the existing electronic health record (EHR). Staff members already work in this system every day, so housing patient engagement activities here reduces the learning curve and time involved in everyday use.

In addition, by integrating with the EHR, automated patient engagement platforms allow for:

  • Just-in-time, personalized outreach. Patient outreach campaigns originate by automatically “pulling” data from the EHR, including individuals who are due for care, their language and communication preferences, and contact information.
  • Two-way communication. Messages generated from these platforms allow patients to respond to SMS texts or automated phone outreach. Then, their replies are immediately written back and updated in the EHR. And if patients don’t respond, this information is documented as an opportunity for later follow-up.
  • Self-scheduling and rescheduling. When patients are allowed to respond to outreach, they can actually self-schedule and self-reschedule appointments right from a text message. Because appointment rules and availability from the EHR are honored, there is no manual data entry required of staff.

Say goodbye to staff burnout related to patient engagement

As health systems begin tackling issues causing staff burnout and dissatisfaction among their teams, addressing repetitive, time-consuming patient engagement activities is a quick win. Fortunately, the technology-enabled approach described earlier automates outreach, eliminates the need to leave voicemails (that often go unanswered), and makes phone tag a thing of the past. Relieving staff of the cognitive burden associated with appointment management functions means their valuable, limited time is spent providing the direct patient care that matters most.

For more about how to relieve overworked staff and satisfy patient demands for a more consumer-centric, self-service healthcare experience, download our latest eBook. 

Or, for a demonstration of how the HouseCalls Pro platform gives staff a break and gives patients the keys to manage their healthcare visits, reach out to our team.