Technology Is crucial for staff retention

The proper technological tools can help a practice survive the Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation still has momentum, presenting a complicated reality for every business. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record-high 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, followed by a still notable 4.3 million in December 2021. This growing movement hit the healthcare industry particularly hard, with 503,000 healthcare and social assistance workers quitting in December.

Within the past couple of years, providers and staff at medical practices have experienced added stresses and pain points. For example, with new COVID-19 protocols, medical practice team members often find themselves taking patient temperatures upon their arrival and administering and collecting screening questionnaires, all while continuing to answer a flurry of patient calls and e-mails amid short-staffed shifts.

Burnout itself can take many forms. For example, both practice owners and staff may feel a “depersonalization” of their day-to-day work, increasing the likelihood of errors and feelings of disconnectedness with the practice mission, leading to cold office experiences that prompt patients to leave negative reviews.

According to an AMA study, 61 percent of physicians across all specialties reported having experienced work-related burnout, a 20 percent increase compared to a pre-pandemic report. In addition, of the healthcare workers that left their job during the pandemic, 29 percent said that burnout and being overworked ranked as primary reasons they left their job during the pandemic.

How technology can help reduce burnout for providers and staff

While delegating tasks or spreading work among more people can help reduce stress, it’s not a necessary solution. Instead, specialized software programs and functions built for medical practices can alleviate the administrative burden and free up staff to engage in more enriching patient connections. Here are some of the more notable solutions:

24/7 Online appointment scheduling and billing tools - The key to removing unnecessary work from practice staff is to offer patients the opportunity to manage some processes online at their convenience. Online appointment scheduling gives patients 24/7 access to check available time slots and either book or request an appointment. Ideally, this is also the place for appointment change and cancellation requests. With 63 percent of patients preferring this method, your practice delivers the digital convenience patients demand while freeing your staff to focus on other higher-value elements of practice management.

Similarly, giving patients the option to make payments online reduces the hassle of paper invoices, can expedite payments and removes the time and hassle required to manage manual billing systems. Although most patients do not currently receive their medical bills electronically, our research shows that 59 percent prefer online bill payments.

Online intake forms - Move your forms online rather than maintain a manual registration and intake process with a clipboard and pen. Staff members can avoid stacks of paperwork, and patients can complete forms before their appointment at their convenience. Practices can send links to intake forms via email or text link, preferably included with the patient’s automated appointment reminder. With forms completed ahead of time, you can reduce patients’ wait times, helping to improve patient satisfaction: our survey research shows that 60 percent of patients feel frustrated if their appointment wait times exceed 20 minutes.

Two-way text messaging - HIPAA-compliant text messaging now makes it easier than ever to engage in direct conversations with new and current patients, using the most dominant method of communication today. Not only does this significantly reduce your staff’s time spent on phone calls, but it’s an accessible, secure way for patients to better connect with providers and staff. So whether they want to book an appointment or have health-related questions, patients are demanding text access to practices — and forward-thinking practices are offering it.

While feelings of burnout are nothing novel to the medical profession, the past few years have made it clear that practices’ priorities need to change. With the right technology and approach to practice management, practices stand a much better chance of improving staff morale and productivity.With these systems in place, your practice will also have more opportunities to attract and maintain new employees throughout the Great Resignation

Travis oversees all aspects of strategy, sales, and business development at PatientPop. Before co-founding the company, Travis co-founded and served as the CEO of ShopNation. He also co-founded and served as the CEO of StarBrand Media. Travis holds an Honors degree in Business and Economics from Wilfrid Laurier University. He is also a two-time recipient of the KPMG Enterprise Entrepreneur Award.