COVID-19 left virtually every sector overwhelmed, in one way or another. Professional sports, fast food restaurants, schools—everyone was either shut down or worn thin. Mental health concerns skyrocketed everywhere, especially for employers when worrying about an employee’s mental health.
But the frontline workers in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and emergency medical services took an especially heavy hit. Today, nurse strikes grab headlines around the world, and staffing shortages leave providers vulnerable to dangerous working conditions. Research shows that moral injury and secondary trauma are among the trials that providers still face. In addition, employee shortages affect mental health professions, too. So providers who need support can’t necessarily get it.
Cancer patients in particular have a higher risk of contracting a severe version of COVID-19, which means that oncology providers and staff are under even more strain than usual.
So how can healthcare companies protect their employees from burnout and stress, mitigating the intensity of the job’s intrinsic strains? One way is by using technology that eases the burden of patient care, creating a margin for providers to breathe and focus on their patients.
Several technology innovators, including Navigating Cancer, Signify, Lyra, Omada, and WellDoc, are all committed to improving patient care. Navigating Cancer is unique in the fact that it couples oncology patient care with improved provider outcomes and administrative support.
Here’s how Navigating Cancer can help healthcare leaders make sure their own teams stay healthy.
1. Streamline operations to leave more time for patient care
Administrative bloat doesn’t just frustrate employees looking for fair pay. It also creeps down into their day-to-day tasks, leaving them fatigued and, in many cases, charting late into the night. This takes a toll on work-life balance and actual minutes spent with patients on the floor or via telehealth channels.
Navigating Cancer’s Navigating Care® tool allows healthcare administrators to automate financial reporting and payment collecting. It also provides a data-based overview of how providers spend their time with patients, helping administrators understand procedural pain points.
Additionally, the platform allows automatic task assignment, which can further reduce administrative load and alleviate concerns of administrative bias. It also streamlines documentation procedures between clinics, meaning a provider doesn’t have the mental load of remembering a different system for different locations. Giving providers the freedom to center their care on patients, rather than hitting a certain quota, could help providers avoid burnout and moral injury.
2. Empower patients to navigate their own care
Many healthcare systems now offer an all-in-one patient portal. These provide a place for patients to access healthcare records, schedule appointments, request refills, view test results, and contact their providers. Navigating Cancer offers this kind of secure solution specifically for oncology centers and institutes.
This technology can bring providers peace of mind in multiple ways:
- Rather than suffer quietly in order to avoid a visit to the emergency department, patients can ask their providers about symptoms via triaged phone calls.
- Rather than remember details from a heavy conversation, patients can visit their portal for detailed visit notes and helpful plan summaries.
- Instead of avoiding visits due to insurance worries, patients can share attachments with the provider’s billing team via secure messaging.
- Rather than having to stop taking a certain medication because it runs out, patients can order a refill through the portal.
- Rather than quit therapy between visits due to side effects, patients can get a hold of their providers to discuss other options in real-time.
When patients use the portal between visits, they can better prepare themselves for future visits, resulting in increased efficiency during appointments. This allows providers to focus on problem-solving, mental health check-ins, and other care-centered tasks.
3. Improve patient outcomes
Patient loss is a sad part of being a healthcare worker. But as anyone familiar with the Hippocratic oath can attest, many nurses, doctors, technicians, and caregivers chose their career path because they wanted to help people. To achieve congruence between that desire and actual patient outcomes, those patient outcomes need to be good. But oncology can be a particularly discouraging field.
However, Navigating Cancer’s tools can actually lead to better outcomes. In one example, unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations went down by 8%. This is because Navigating Cancer helped providers manage patient symptoms remotely. Providers have seen patients increase their time on therapy, thanks to the platform’s interventions and patient education.
Navigating Cancer’s tools can also help providers simplify patient triage by flagging at-risk patients based on symptoms. Texas Oncology saw symptom-related call return times drop to less than 90 minutes, with 60% of symptom-related calls resolved in less than 60 minutes. This kind of solution can reduce provider stress by ensuring that the highest-need patients get responses first and that no patient is forgotten.
Providers—especially oncology providers—have a harder job than ever in the age of COVID-19. Additionally, employers who want to keep their workforce healthy need to prioritize an employee’s mental health support. Using streamlined technology can reduce stress and help do just that.