Health worker rescue program targets well-being during pandemic

A five-part guide for healthcare executives includes adjusting expectations, reducing low-value work, and strategies for dealing with labor shortages.

the CEO Coalition in collaboration with the National Academy of Medicine created the 2022 Healthcare Personnel Rescue Package to help guide executives in bolstering the well-being of healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Health worker burnout was high before the pandemic and has reached crisis proportionsaccording to the national expert on health care worker wellbeing Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, director of wellness at Ohio State University and dean of the university’s College of Nursing. Before the coronavirus pandemic, burnout rates for healthcare workers ranged from 30% to 50%; now burnout rates range from 40% to 70%, Melnyk says.

The 2022 Healthcare Workforce Rescue Package, which was announced this month, includes five prescriptions to improve the well-being of healthcare workers.

1. Adjusting expectations during the pandemic

Health officials should give clinicians more flexibility and autonomy during the pandemic, according to the bailout.

“We know from the literature that control is an important burnout lever,” says Jessica Perlo, MPH, director of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) that helped craft the rescue plan.

One important way to offer clinicians more flexibility is to use alternate schedules, she says. “For example, Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis worked on eliminating mandatory early morning and late afternoon meetings, and they allowed clinicians to flexibly schedule patients during the first and last hours of their clinicians were able to maintain productivity while reducing conflicts with travel and picking up children. This kind of change is good because it does not impact patient access or the total number of clinic visits. patients, but it improves burnout scores and turnover.

Focusing on autonomy gives staff the freedom to determine the conditions that best support their well-being, Perlo says.

“The misconception is that autonomy somehow negates the importance of collaboration, integration and teamwork. It doesn’t – it allows individuals to use their discretion, their judgment and the full scope of their credentials to make management decisions that best meet a patient’s needs. A good question to ask is, “Do people feel they have a choice about how they carry out their day-to-day responsibilities or have a say in how things are done?” This is where quality improvement can be particularly helpful, because it enables people to have enough authority to improve the way work is done and can be an effective lever to help distribute leadership in a way that promotes autonomy,” she says.

2. Identify and remove low value jobs

Health officials should work with clinicians to limit low-value work such as reducing clicks on electronic health records for common workflows and decreasing inbox notifications, the program says. rescue.

Perlo says there are two useful tools for reducing low-value work—Get rid of stupid stuff and Breaking the rules for better care. “With the Breaking the Rules for Better Care tool, leaders ask their staff if they could break or change a rule in the service of better care, what would it be? The IHI Leaders Alliance Members found that asking this question allowed their organizations to identify areas where they could take direct action to eliminate habits and rules that cause harm without gaining any benefit,” she says.

3. Make sweeping changes to address labor shortages

Health leaders need to be creative in ensuring that frontline care teams are adequately staffed, for example by sending executives to the bedside and initiating the voluntary redeployment of non-clinical staff to care facilities, says the rescue program.

One of the most immediate actions that healthcare leaders should take is Gemba, said Perlo. “It’s an approach we took years ago in Lean Manufacturing for leaders to see an actual work process. They can understand the work, and they can learn from and show respect to those who know labor shortages first-hand. The goal is for leaders to understand the issues, rather than seeing the issues and making recommendations from their desks.”

Optimizing the efforts of members of the healthcare team is also key, she says. “We’re also talking about enabling all staff to work at the peak of their licenses and take team care seriously. This can include nurses and physician assistants taking verbal orders, performing computerized order entry, performing a medical reconciliation and helping with the visit note documentation. The idea is to lighten some of the workload of clinicians.”

4. Appoint a wellness manager

Health care organizations should designate a senior manager, such as a chief wellness officer, who has the operational authority and resources to align and execute clinician wellness efforts, the program says. rescue.

A wellness manager is a key member of any healthcare organization’s leadership team, Perlo says.

“A wellness director does things such as regularly monitoring and reporting on results, as well as supporting a culture of wellness. It is important for the wellness director to report to the CEO, president, or dean This person should also work closely with the Chief Equity Officer or achieve the goal of addressing inequities in the system.The risks of burnout are higher among female physicians, and we know that burnout professional is higher among people of color.As such, a wellness director must identify and address gaps in the experience of these demographic groups.For example, at the Henry Ford Health System, Wisdom of Kimberlydawn is the Chief Wellness and Diversity Officer. She makes sure staff have the resources they need to have an impact on workforce equity,” she says.

5. Foundational programs to support mental health

Mental health counselling, a peer support program and psychological first aid training for leaders are helpful in maintaining wellbeing in healthcare organizations, the rescue program says.

“Providing quality mental health counselling, creating peer support programs, and offering psychological first aid training to leaders in healthcare organizations normalizes distress and encourages help-seeking behaviors. Peer support can be effective in creating formal systems for non-psychiatric clinicians to offer support to their colleagues after adverse events or any stressful work experience,” says Perlo.

Providing psychological first aid training to leaders of healthcare organizations helps overcome stigma and identify staff members who need help, she says. “Right now a lot of healthcare workers are suffering from pandemic-related mental health sequelae. We’ve had multiple waves of the pandemic, and people are going through a lot of trauma and stress. So making sure people are equipped to identify when their colleagues are experiencing distress is an important part of supporting our caregivers.”

Christopher Cheney is the Clinical Care Editor at HealthLeaders.

Michael A. Bynum