There is an established shortage of doctors and clinicians worldwide, even in developed nations. Thus, doctors and clinicians frequently suffer from burnout due to work overload. It further worsened during the pandemic due to the exponential rise in the numbers of patients, scarcity of supplies, and intense Covid protocols. Amid these concerns, the adoption and systematic use of collaboration software tools remain beneficial for many doctors and clinicians to streamline and control their work, enhance communication, improve coordination, and achieve better patient outcomes.
- 69% of female physicians and 57% of male physicians reported having frequent feelings of professional burnout in 2021.
- The U.S. alone may face an estimated shortage of around 124,000 physicians by 2034.
- Medical error and accidents kill approximately as many people each month in the U.S. as Covid-19 did before vaccines became available.
- Studies suggest that improved healthcare collaboration can improve patient outcomes by reducing preventable adverse drug reactions.
- “Telemedicine will definitely be part of what candidates and clients are looking for in the future,” says Mike Jowdry, VP (Recruiting) for Merritt Hawkins.
- The global clinical communication and collaboration market size is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.0% from 2020 to 2027 and reach a market size of USD 5,029.8 million by 2027.
- Global digital transformation in the healthcare market will reach USD 50.15 billion by 2024.
How did we get here?
#1. Challenges That Doctors and Clinicians Face
The statistics above indicate an ever-rising shortage of doctors and clinicians globally, especially in less developed countries. Thus, medical staff, doctors, and clinicians are in general overloaded. Besides, they also bear the burden of managing voluminous paperwork, including procedure summaries, routine patient status reports, discharge summaries, and other hospital/clinical records mandated by regulatory norms.
Shortage of time for any medical staff, including doctors and clinicians, directly affects patient outcomes. When they are overloaded and cannot spend enough quality time with the patients, patients gradually lose trust. It adversely impacts the treatment and also falls upon the reputation of the doctor, clinicians, and the hospital.
Hospitals also need to ensure that the optimum number of staff is available for the patients at all times, and the staff is optimally engaged, neither less utilized nor overloaded. Doctors, clinicians, and other relevant staff regularly also need to assess that the right equipment is readily available and the infrastructure adapts to the changing needs.
Further, managing work in different shifts, arranging additional emergency resources, and unprecedented peak loads pose difficulties. Moreover, data security and compliance management deficiencies can cause irreparable damages to the doctors and the hospital.
These unrelenting challenges frequently lead to doctors’ and clinicians’ burnout, frustration, loss of efficiency, compromised patient care, and further shortage of doctors and clinicians.
The Covid pandemic alarmingly added more concerns. It suddenly raised the need for doctors, medical staff, equipment, infrastructure, and other resources to a level beyond human imagination and planning. Additionally, the increasing number of patients, shortage of oxygen supplies, stricter protocols to curb the spread of infections, lack of space to accommodate patients, the mental trauma of high fatalities, and more resulted in complete exhaustion for doctors and clinicians.
Most of the above challenges got exacerbated due to poor communication, coordination, and collaboration. Thus, the pandemic made doctors and clinicians realize the importance of enhancing clinical collaboration to reduce these challenges, prevent burnout, perform better, and improve patient outcomes. An increasing number of doctors and clinicians are thus adopting unified communication and collaboration tools for a better future.
#2. How Can Doctors and Clinicians Enhance Performance and Patient Outcomes?
To eliminate the above challenges and serve the patients better, doctors and clinicians must streamline processes, manage people, and optimize resources. Here are some simple tips that can help doctors and clinicians perform better.
Improve Work-Life Balance
For doctors and clinicians to perform better, it is crucial to increase speed/efficiency while ensuring process accuracy and elimination of errors. For this, doctors must ensure that they maintain a proper work-life balance, not overstress, prevent burnout, maintain personal safety, and eliminate interruptions.
To achieve this, firstly, doctors and clinicians should delegate simple tasks and pay more attention to complex ones. To better manage their time and perform better, doctors must adopt software tools for work scheduling, planning, reminders, shift management, and more; for example, appointment scheduling tools can streamline and manage these functions with ease.
Doctors and clinicians need to manage voluminous paperwork and record sensitive patient data. Any errors in such data due to negligence can invite legal issues and prove disastrous. Thus, it is wiser to hire assistants and spend on software for these time-consuming, simple, and routine tasks like recording data, transcription of patient summaries, discharge notes, procedure notes, etc.; for example, medical transcription software enables doctors to narrate and record all types of patient and procedure notes. The software helps record patient information, converts voice to text, and saves time.
Enhance Teamwork and Work Environment
Most of the work that doctors and clinicians perform requires assistants and teams. Medical procedures are typically conducted in large groups or teams that include multiple doctors, consultants, anesthesiologists, nurses, assistants, and more. Even a doctor managing a small clinic needs the help of nurses and other medical and support staff to manage his work better.
Thus, it is crucial to develop a healthy work environment by achieving perfect teamwork, streamlined processes, and workflow management. Doctors and clinicians can accomplish this by improving communication, coordination, and collaboration at work. It helps create better relationships and positive work culture, enabling all the stakeholders to perform better and get a sense of accomplishment.
Better team management helps medical staff handle emergencies and difficult situations with ease. Team communication software helps control various team management activities on a unified platform, enabling doctors and clinicians to save time, improve productivity, and enhance quality through enhanced team management.
Having enough resources and making them available at the right time is a challenge that doctors and clinicians commonly face. It worsens during medical emergencies and peak patient loads, such as unforeseen circumstances like the Covid pandemic. Besides, damaged medical equipment/devices or expired drugs pose added difficulties. Any deficiencies in resources management directly affect doctors’ performance and can lead to severe damages.
Doctors and clinicians must optimize their resources, including human resources, material, equipment, drugs, and more. Better equipment maintenance, medical inventory optimization, and backup stocks can help doctors solve numerous issues and perform better.
Additionally, clinicians should hire floating doctors/clinicians and contractual, part-time medical staff to cover for unexpected leaves and manage increased emergency staff needs.
Patient Care and Patient Outcomes
If doctors spend more time with the patients, they can better understand their concerns and ailments. It enables them to plan appropriate treatment based on the detailed medical history of patients. Moreover, patients’ trust in the doctor also remarkably affects the treatment outcomes for patients with complex and chronic medical conditions such as cancers.
For better patient care and enhanced patient outcomes, doctors and clinicians must spend quality time with the patients and understand their physical and psychological issues. Enhanced patient engagement instills confidence in the patient, develops a sense of security, and helps ensure a speedy recovery. Empathetic behavior towards patients with severe and chronic illnesses can also improve their life expectancy. Healthcare CRM systems can help doctors and clinicians achieve this.
Security and Compliance Management
Doctors and clinicians also bear the responsibility for patient safety and data security. Thus, there are stricter data security and compliance requirements for the healthcare industry. Any negligence in these aspects can lead to serious legal complications for the doctors and clinicians. Further, odd circumstances like the Covid pandemic impose additional safety protocols that doctors must follow.
Doctors and clinicians should ensure flawless data security measures and compliance management by maintaining appropriate records, data security, patient safety, and following regulatory norms. They must implement various safety protocols for themselves, their staff, and patients. They should also provide training and prepare their team for better work, safety, compliance, and emergency management.
Leverage Software and Technology
As discussed, doctors and clinicians can utilize various software tools to beat their work challenges, enhance their performance, and achieve better patient outcomes. Collaboration software offers numerous such tools on a single platform that enables doctors and clinicians to automate various processes, store data securely, communicate, coordinate, collaborate, and better manage their practice, team, and patients.
Telehealth and telemedicine further empower doctors and clinicians to work remotely without compromising quality. It also makes healthcare accessible to patients by eliminating location constraints. These tools and technologies help doctors and clinicians grow their practice and scale without hassles.
#3. How Do Collaboration Tools Benefit Doctors and Clinicians?
Collaboration tools offer numerous valuable features and functionalities to help doctors and clinicians perform better, including:
Audio and Video Calls
Collaboration tools provide audio and video calling features to enable transparent communication instantly between individuals and groups. Audio and video conferencing tools allow virtual group meetings where doctors and other medical staff can interact and discuss patients’ treatment conveniently, as in an actual meeting room. This feature ensures the doctor’s virtual presence and prevents work interruption due to miscommunication. Doctors and clinicians can leverage these collaboration features to connect with their team and keep updated about their patients’ progress and work from anywhere, anytime.
Instant messaging is a handy collaboration tool for doctors and clinicians. Real-time chat/messaging through collaboration apps helps them share knowledge, coordinate work, solve queries, and build trust among the team, thus ensuring uninterrupted work. The tool also enables them to connect with the patients as needed instantly. Better and quicker communication with instant messaging enhances overall productivity and performance.
With the help of the calendar management feature of collaboration systems, doctors and clinicians can send meeting requests, alerts, reminders, book meeting slots/rooms, and schedule events, thus ensuring better team coordination and preventing missouts.
Doctors and clinicians frequently need to discuss patients’ case reports, images, and more, with the team. Collaboration software offers presentation tools like screen-sharing, virtual notepads, whiteboards, annotation tools, offline viewing, etc., that help them share and present their ideas and highlight critical areas with clarity.
Time and Shift Tracking
Collaboration software provides time tracking tools like attendance, login/logout time records, shift management, breaks, and more. These tools, for example, medical scheduling software, allow doctors and clinicians to delegate and monitor their teams, work schedules, and manage staff in multiple shifts. These tools enable flexible working, ensure accountability, and enhance team performance.
Flawless document management is a must for clinical collaboration. Collaboration systems thus offer comprehensive document management tools, including file sharing, storage, synchronous editing, version control, forms management, robust search, customized access, and more.
Remote Work Management
Doctors and clinicians cannot always be available to the patients, but they need to be accessible for sudden emergency needs. Collaboration software offers various remote work management tools, including staff/patient monitoring, remote access, file sharing, screen sharing, live chat, calls, meetings management, and security that help doctors and clinicians keep track of their staff and patients all the time, from anywhere. These tools are beneficial in emergencies when the doctor is urgently needed and cannot physically reach the patients.
Collaboration systems are a central repository for doctors’ contacts with detailed information about patients, staff, equipment suppliers, and emergency help resources. This contact database ensures quick and seamless communication with all contacts, saving time and enabling faster resource building during emergencies.
Security and Compliance
Data confidentiality, security, and compliance are crucial for doctors and clinicians. An ideal collaboration software offers compliance management and robust security tools, including encryption, multi-factor authentication, role-based access, automatic backups, and more.
There is an ever-increasing demand for doctors and clinicians worldwide, but the supply is limited, creating a global shortage. The pandemic further made the world realize that our healthcare system severely lacks resources. On top of it, doctors and clinicians are loaded with other administrative tasks that leave them tired and frustrated. Therefore, doctors and clinicians are overburdened, exhausted, and cannot perform efficiently, thus impacting patient care.
The simple tips discussed here can help doctors and clinicians solve these challenges, save time, and enhance productivity, quality, communication, coordination, and performance. Collaboration software enables centralized collaboration, automation of processes, reduced efforts on routine tasks, enhanced accuracy, quick access/updates, data sharing/presenting, and more.
Doctors and clinicians must adopt these strategies, practices, and collaboration tools to perform better, achieve work-life balance, manage their team, and offer the best services to the patients.