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How COVID-19 has exacerbated burnout among care providers

Valerie Dimond, Contributing Reporter | June 29, 2020
Business Affairs Risk Management

Indeed, those on the front lines today are faced with numerous pressures, often brought on by reimbursement and regulatory factors, to ramp up efficiency, do more cases, and routinely engage in nonclinical activities with fewer resources and less time than ever before.

“A second dimension is this need to produce, and the financial stresses to do more and more and that’s really created a little bit of a disconnect and actually takes people away from their connection to purpose,” said Maples. “The ways that you do things now, you really wouldn’t if you didn’t have all of the pressures to see more patients in a shorter period of time and do more with less. That actually weighs significantly, particularly as we’re trying to navigate the roller coaster of emotions.”

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Maples continued, “Then you have things that are actually taking you away from the purpose of why you went into medicine. It takes away your autonomy. When you lose your autonomy and you lose your connection with purpose; that is a definition of a pathway to burnout.”

Dr. William Maples
An unhappy clinical staff leads to high turnover, and fortune in lost revenue that could have been avoided. “The data is there. It is a significant financial burden to the health system. We see these things, we talk about it, but actions don’t necessarily follow what the financial numbers actually state,” said Maples. “Everybody gets caught up in that circle. We then tend to forget how to treat each other as human beings, as individuals — human beings that really need some appreciation and recognition. That’s the background of where it’s been and how we’ve entered the coronavirus pandemic.”

Leadership must listen
Clearly, meaningful change is needed and fortunately, several organizations are taking the lead in making a lasting transformation in how they do business. For example, Dr. Roxana Nederi, faculty member and hospitalist at University of Colorado School of Medicine, shared her experience during a virtual fireside chat hosted by the National Taskforce for Humanity in Healthcare on mental health. She said what made her team’s roller coaster less scary was the genuine support they consistently received from the top every step of the way.

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