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August 24, 2018

How to Break the Cycle of Nurse Burnout

In the last several years, our bedside heroes have taken on a much more demanding role.  Long gone are the days of just delivering quality care and attending to our every need.  Now they must handle a much larger administrative part of our care too.

Patient and Staff Rounding, Quality and Safety Audits, and Joint Commission Readiness are just a few of the administrative necessities that are stuffing the typical Nurse Manager’s pockets with post-its. Throughout the shift they account for all of the admin areas, quietly celebrating the days when they aren’t pulled off track. 

However, just as the end of the shift looms near, they realize they must now sit at a desk, wade through the heaps of papers,  enter all of the collected data into a workstation, manually complete calculations and reports, and remember to chase down an outstanding ancillary escalation from earlier in the day.

So begins the endless cycle of balancing this ever-morphing role with its swelling job description.  Emotional exhaustion and reduced personal daily accomplishment set in and the driving forces of nurse burnout are now in full swing.

Nurse Burnout

How Do We Break This Cycle?

The solution is to use technology to systematize administrative tasks!  Automating daily processes and collection of critical data, audits/forms, and follow-ups will provide a reprieve to managers.  With automated rounding, the time to round is reduced exponentially and using mobile technology makes it easy! 

Seek out a software solution that empties those pockets of paper, is effortless and straightforward, and essentially does the work for the team!  Instead of dreading the end of the day, they can breathe a sigh of relief because they have completed their work while on the go!

Encourage your leaders to help eliminate the manual approach to gathering what’s important.  Finding the right technology may seem daunting, but here are a few helpful tips.

1. Technology is Your Friend

Look for an application that is easy-to-use and doesn’t require weeks of training.  The technology should not be cumbersome, designed to minimize typing, and implementation should be stress free. 

For Patient Leader Rounding, the HCAHPS areas should be laid out as a small handful of topics or targeted areas instead of ‘survey style’ (ie a long list of questions dependent on one another in sequence requiring lots of data input).  By doing so, the leaders may focus on conversations with their patients as opposed to questions, maintaining eye contact with the patient while engaging them and quickly and easily capturing their feedback.

Hands-on training is a must, lasting no more than an hour or so with supporting documentation available at the tap of a button.   A customer-oriented company with focus on satisfaction will also provide supplementary web-based training options for a quick refresher if needed.  Does your current technology vendor address the team’s need for support after hours and on weekends?

2. Automated Issue Resolution

A well-designed application includes a real-time issue escalation function. Seek out a solution that provides the leader with a ‘one stop shop’ for launching a rapid notification coupled with the ability for the responding department to send an action plan/resolution communication back to the leader via the technology.  No more running back to a workstation at some point during the shift to check email for a response! 

While the technology handles the communication, the follow-up time and effort is greatly reduced, freeing up the leader to move on to other tasks. Nurses can take a sigh of relief and cut down the number of steps they take per day chasing things patients need.

Nurse Leader Rounding eBook

3. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Find an application that is your work horse.  Let the application do the ‘grunt work’ so the team can work smartly. A robust workflow platform that converts every piece of information entered, tapped, swiped or voice activated via handheld device and transforms it into reportable data is vital. Frustrations disappear when key indicators are available to the leader such as historical data including patient preferences, supporting notes for ‘Not Met’ areas, and even patient exclusion reasons. 

A smart technology will eliminate the managers’ need to remember ‘who completed what’ – in terms of calculating completion, team member percent of completion and even go so far as to compare topic outcomes against completion!  Another sigh of relief as an easier way of working provides comfort to overworked staff.

Don’t Look too Far

The good news is you don’t have to look too far to find a technology that fulfills all of the above needs.   CLARIFIRE HEALTH® offers an easy-to-use mobile application that is as simple as Tap, Swipe, and Go.  Intuitive usability combined with a robust workflow engine capture metrics, preferences, and trends in real time. Paper processes are eliminated, issue escalation is automated, and solid reporting is available with just a few quick clicks.

Providing your team a robust, simple solution that includes a behind-the-scenes workflow engine will, without a doubt, reduce administrative hours. This provides an easier, kinder, gentler workplace.  Leaders, managers, and nurses will see an end to their day while feeling more organized and in control, leading to a feeling of personal accomplishment.  In the long run, these feelings will lead to a better overall culture and a break in the burnout cycle.


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Lauren Walling

Lauren Walling is a graduate of Emory University with a degree in Industrial Psychology, as well as an MBA from the John Sykes School of Business from The University of Tampa. She currently sits on the Board of Fellows at the University of Tampa, and is a member of the Healthcare Business Women's Association, National Association of Professional Women, and the Morton Plant Skip Cline Society. Lauren works with large Healthcare Systems implementing Patient Experience Solutions that streamline processes, increase patient experience and improve quality and safety. 


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