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This article was originally posted on The League of Healthcare Experts.

As the healthcare industry has undergone tremendous changes in the past decade, including the gradual transition to value-based reimbursement, we’ve heard a lot about “The Triple Aim” of healthcare: to decrease the cost of healthcare, increase our quality outcomes, and thereby improve population health across our country. However, in 2014 two physicians proposed that the United States should truly be endeavoring for a Quadruple Aim, with the fourth tier of the framework to “improve the work life of those who deliver care”. With the statistics on burnout, this proposal is no surprise – more than half of physicians report feeling burnout, and that number has steadily climbed in the past few years. New data illustrates that burnout could cost healthcare approximately $17 billion annually – and in an environment where we are trying to contain cost, the expense of burnout is a problem that needs to be rectified. The Quadruple Aim truly matters.

Take into consideration that burnout can impact patient safety, and the Triple Aim becomes a house of cards, ready to fall at a moment’s notice if the foundation isn’t reinforced. Our foundation of healthcare is our people – our nurses, support staff, providers, and all those others who impact the day to day care of a patient. In order for us to decrease cost and increase quality, we need to ensure that our people are in the right state of mind and are supported to deliver the great care they were trained for.

If we actually want to achieve the Triple and Quadruple Aims, it begins with addressing the systemic problems that lead to burnout among healthcare professionals. A 2016 study reports the number one cause of healthcare burnout is work overload. How can we relieve the pressure of work overload that our staff feel? We can begin with these first three steps:

  1. Analyze the patient experience – Think through the experience of a patient making an appointment, to checking in, to being roomed, to follow up after the appointment, to other needs like medical records fulfillment or forms completion. How do these processes currently happen in your organization? Can any of these tasks be performed prior to the patient walking in the door? Frequently, practices may find efficiencies like collecting and verifying patient information prior to the patient even showing up at the appointment.
  2. Allow providers and staff to perform to the top of their license – Are your nurses doing paperwork? Your providers filling out lengthy forms? By reviewing job duties, you may be able to determine where your staff members are not performing to the top of their abilities. Too often necessary tasks bog down staff, when other team members can help to allow nurses and providers to practice to the top of their license and execute tasks only they can.
  3. Do what you do best, outsource the rest – This old phrase is true in healthcare too. Take advantage of experienced business associate partners! Tasks like fielding medical records status check phone calls from attorneys are likely zapping your staff’s time and energy, and you don’t even know it. There are so many more tasks that need to be done in today’s healthcare environment, but too often we are caught in the myth that they need to be done by practice staff. There are many workflows where a business associate partner can take on the work and relive your staff from the burden.

Implementing the three steps above provides a great foundation to provide relief from the “too many tasks, too little time” mindset and allows your providers and staff to focus on what truly matters – patients. With the Quadruple Aim in mind, we can tackle the Triple Aim and make strides toward the fourth ideal of improving the work life of healthcare providers and staff.

To learn more about these and other steps to minimize provider burnout, make sure to catch DataFile Technologies Chief Marketing Officer Joy Milkowski share more burnout relief tips at the Kansas City “Ready to Learn” event on November 15th. Register now for this free event! To learn more about how DataFile Technologies provides relief for organizations suffering from burnout, call us today at 816-381-9850 or drop us a line.

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