Working in healthcare, while rewarding, can also be very challenging. Healthcare workers often work long shifts, attend to many patients at once, and receive little additional training.
Today, we’ll look at four challenges healthcare workers face and ways to overcome them.
Lack of training
With increasing demands and constantly changing insurance requirements, healthcare is a fast-paced industry that demands continuous training programs.
Sadly, many healthcare administrators devote little attention to staff education. Making training a non-priority can result in patient safety risks, compliance risks, data privacy and security breaches, inadequate documentation, reduced employee productivity, and legal issues.
Training the staff takes a lot of time and resources, but it’s well worth it. With effective training programs, a healthcare facility can improve overall employee productivity, retention, as well as staff morale, creating a positive, motivated, and competent workforce.
According to research published in The Journal Of Oncology Practice, there are a variety of cheap training options that can benefit healthcare practices:
- Government grants – State and federal grants serve specialized populations and provide staff education.
- Hospital programs – Many hospitals and clinics provide free seminars, workshops, and webinars on topics of interest to staff.
- Vendor-sponsored education programs – Different vendors often offer workshops on topics such as customer service in addition to their product-related training sessions.
- In-house education programs by subject matter experts – Veteran doctors or trusted industry names can provide regular educational programs to remediate problems and improve efficiency.
Faced with increasing demand to produce better outcomes at lower costs, many healthcare facilities are forcing their staff in working extended shifts. While this is good for the patients, health workers are experiencing burnouts at alarming rates.
Burnouts are often characterized by a low sense of fulfillment from work, emotional exhaustion, and depersonalization, which can negatively affect patient care.
Multiple studies show a rising prevalence of burnout among physicians in the country.
According to a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, burnout prevalence went up by 9 percent among U.S. doctors between 2011 and 2014. A separate report from Medscape revealed that in 2018, 42 percent of the 15,000 doctors surveyed reported burnout.
Just how real are the dangers of overworking your staff?
A 2013 research by the Journal of Patient Safety found that 210,000 to 440,000 patients die at hospitals each year because of medical errors. These medical errors are often caused by doctors and nurses who are too fatigued to do their jobs effectively.
Employers can encourage breaks so their staff doesn’t overwork themselves to the point of burnout. Employers can also give longer vacation times, which promotes a healthy work-life balance.
Not enough time with patients
As hospitals across the country experience a nursing shortage, patient safety, and care quality continue to be put in jeopardy. According to research conducted by Anderson Robbins Research, up to 90 percent of nurses admit they lack adequate time to properly assist patients.
In the research, they found that:
- The most significant challenge for nurses was having to care for too many patients at one time. Seventy-seven percent of nurses identified unsafe patient assignments as an issue.
- As a result of attending to multiple patients at once, the majority of these nurses reported medication errors, such as providing patients with the wrong dosage or medicine.
- Sixty-four percent of respondents said patient injuries were linked to unsafe nurse-patient assignments; 72 percent of nurses said patient readmission was a consequence of attending to too many patients at one time.
More studies show that nurses may spend fewer than two hours in a 12-hour shift in direct patient care. They’re busy with tasks like tracking down medications, hunting for supplies, filling out paperwork, and looking for test results.
Now, more hospitals are reshaping traditional work methods, by shifting more routine tasks to certified nurse assistants or other staffers. They’re ditching inefficient processes that sometimes make nurses walk as many as five miles around the hospital in a single shift.
Challenges with new technology
Technology has benefited healthcare in so many ways. For example, innovations like electronic medical records and telemedicine platforms are making information sharing easier, helping improve the quality of patient care.
However, with these innovations, come several challenges:
- Learning curve – Not having a full understanding of how a new software works may lead to errors. Medical professionals need to be well-educated on these new processes so hospitals need to have training sessions.
- The cost – For clinics and hospitals with limited resources, the cost of these new tools can present a significant challenge.
- Meaningful use compliance – Medical professionals who don’t act under meaningful use procedures could see a reduction in Medicare reimbursements. This could greatly increase financial concerns for hospitals and clinics that already suffer from monetary woes.
Being a healthcare worker can be rewarding but at the same time challenging. These are just some of the challenges healthcare workers face and what organizations can do to stymie them.