About 35% to 54% of US nurses and physicians experience significant symptoms of clinician burnout annually. In a 2020 Medscape national survey of over 15,000 clinicians in more than 29 specialties, 42% reported experiencing clinician burnout. COVID-19 has worsened clinician burnout by adding another layer of stress to the healthcare system.
Digital mental health platforms can help address clinician burnout. In this article, we discuss how digital health technology can alleviate clinician burnout and integrate it into workflow systems.
Understanding clinician burnout
In the book Taking Action Against Clinician Burnout: A Systems Approach to Professional Wellbeing published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, burnout is described as “A syndrome characterized by high emotional exhaustion, high depersonalization (i.e., cynicism), and a low sense of personal accomplishment from work.”
Frank John Ninivaggi, MD, a physician at Yale New Haven Hospital, says, “The percentage of physicians feeling burned out remains fairly consistent. The leading cause is administrative burden, as driven by the workplace and organizational culture.”
5 pathways for digital mental health solutions to reduce clinician burnout
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine outlined certain goals organizations can work toward to provide solutions for clinician wellbeing.
The following goals were highlighted:
- Creating positive work environments
- Addressing burnout in training and at early career stages
- Reducing tasks that do not improve patient care
- Improving usability and relevance of health information technology
- Reducing stigma and improving recovery services
- Creating a national research agenda on clinician wellbeing.
We’ve observed that digital mental health solutions have an integral role in helping organizations achieve these goals.
Let’s discuss five pathways for digital health solutions to fulfill some of the above-mentioned goals.
1. Digital health solutions create positive work environments.
In a survey by Aetna, 61% of employees indicated their employer could help them better manage their health through workplace technology. Up to 85% of SilverCloud® by Amwell® users show improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms, contributing to improved workplace satisfaction.
2. Digital health solutions can prevent burnout in training and at early career stages.
Clinicians who are still in training function simultaneously as both learners and healthcare providers. In one study, compared to trainees who were not exposed to patients with COVID-19, trainees who were exposed experienced more burnout (3% vs. 33.7%). Having access to digital health platforms can help alleviate stress in these trainees.
3. Digital health solutions reduce tasks that do not improve patient care.
Evidence shows that poorly designed work systems and chronically excessive demands often lead to clinician burnout. A national survey by The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety shows that “for each 10% drop in task load, there are 33% lower odds of experiencing clinician burnout.” What if clinicians were offered space in their daily tasks for mental health checks? This would reduce their task load and alleviate physician burnout.
4. Digital health solutions improve the usability and relevance of health information technology.
Seamless and modern digital platforms are necessary to improve usability. One academic clinic saw a 45% reduction in clinician burnout when it implemented an efficient health care workflow. Easy-to-use digital mental health platforms like Silvercloud can be integrated quickly into clinicians’ workflow without diminishing efficiency.
5. Digital health solutions reduce stigma.
In a 2019 national survey, 20% of physicians said they had not gotten help for their mental health because they “did not want to risk disclosure.” Digital mental health platforms can help reduce stigma due to their privacy. Clinicians can log in at any time to receive help without driving to an actual psychiatrist’s office.
Establishing digital health solutions as an inherent part of clinicians’ workflow
Digital mental health solutions like SilverCloud should be an inherent part of the clinician’s workflow. This will enable quick and easy access to the tools they need to manage their mental health and prevent burnout by identifying their needs at an earlier stage. This will have a cascading effect on their health care organization and the patients they treat.
After using the SilverCloud digital platform, 80% of users show improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms, while 65% of users experience clinically significant improvement.
SilverCloud is the leading global provider of evidence-based behavioral and mental health solutions, delivered digitally and at scale. We help thousands of organizations address unmet behavioral and mental health needs among their employees.
Supporting more than 500 customer organizations and over 1 million users, SilverCloud® brings nearly two decades of direct clinical research on digital delivery of mental and behavioral health together with easy-to-use technology to improve access and outcomes for users.
Learn more about SilverCloud solutions for healthcare providers.