COVID-19 has accelerated workforce challenges across the healthcare industry. The impact of staffing shortages and rapidly changing expectations has led to a growing number of clinicians and staff members experiencing burnout. A recent study from the KLAS Research Arch Collaborative shows that the percentage of clinicians reporting burnout has increased to about 33%, compared to 25% at the start of the pandemic.
When healthcare workers are stressed, emotionally exhausted, detached and dissatisfied, patient safety can suffer along with experiential, clinical and financial outcomes. Cybersecurity risks and policies are also more likely to be put on the backburner.
Health systems can use near real-time technology, data and comprehensive security strategies to better address these pressing issues while continuing to deliver high-quality patient care.
Mitigate the staffing crisis with virtual, intelligent tools
Virtual technology and workflows have been a game-changer for healthcare amid the pandemic. In addition to slowing the spread of COVID-19, telehealth, virtual observation and more can enable a more efficient and effective workforce. Expanding capacity within and beyond the four walls of the hospital can help reduce the burden on front-line clinicians, increase workforce engagement and allow patients to receive convenient, coordinated and personalized care.
Alongside virtual tools, workforce management solutions can also support a more proactive approach to staffing. For example, an automated and intelligent system can help caregivers predict workloads based on the clinical condition of each patient. AI-enabled tools can also use algorithms to help organizations:
- Identify areas where staffing levels need to be adjusted
- Ensure patient assignments are equitable
- Facilitate seamless care transitions
- Retrieve and share productivity data with ease
Lessen cybersecurity threats with a strong program
Protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of healthcare information is a critical responsibility for health systems. Yet, cybersecurity often becomes a low priority as rigorous demands, surging patient loads and limited resources push many care facilities to the breaking point. For example, a survey of 2,500 adults reveals that 59% of burned-out employees reported picking easy passwords and using the same passwords for everything, compared to 43% of employees who were not experiencing burnout.
The same report also shows employees experiencing burnout were three times as likely to think security rules and policies “aren’t worth the hassle,” compared to respondents who were not experiencing burnout. In addition, cybersecurity professionals reported disproportionately high levels of burnout and were twice as likely as other respondents to say burnout caused them to be “completely checked out” or “doing the bare minimum.”
The patient safety risks and significant expenses that come with a security breach make it clear that healthcare venues can’t afford to become complacent. Attackers continue to get more sophisticated and a strong, enterprisewide cybersecurity program is essential to mitigate threats. All organizations should implement a cybersecurity strategy that includes:
- Up-to-date knowledge of new and existing federal and state legislation
- Annual simulated cyberattacks to test security controls
- 24x7 monitoring/security operations center
- An incident response plan that’s continuously tested through simulated attacks
COVID-19 has worsened the workforce challenges and cybersecurity threats that strain many health systems around the world. Technology solutions powered by advanced analytics alongside well-managed security measures can help providers focus on what’s most important in healthcare — patients and outcomes.