by Rotageek on 22 September 2020
The happiness of your staff has a direct effect on your customers no matter your industry. Whether you’re a grocer, retailer, restauranteur or beauty therapist, employee wellbeing is crucial for business success. Yet for healthcare, the ramifications have a much more detrimental impact.
In this article, we look at the relationship between happy doctors and happy patients - and how we can support our overworked healthcare workers.
Workplace related stress and burnout not only affects our doctors’ own health - it has a crucial correlation with patient safety. Across two studies, researchers found that staff with higher levels of burnout were up to 63% more likely to make a major medical error compared to their more relaxed colleagues. Work periods of over eight hours were also reported to carry an increased risk of accidents which doubled further at 12 hours. Yet in organisations where doctors’ needs were met, there was a significant increase in reports of happy patients.
More than ever, supporting our healthcare staff and the National Health Service (NHS) is of fundamental importance. Over recent years, it has been clearly established that organisations who keep staff happy and prioritise their doctors’ wellbeing will see a consequential lift in retainment, patient satisfaction, efficiency and quality of care.
It goes without saying that being a doctor is not an easy job. On top of the long shifts, emergency on-calls and often traumatising scenes, healthcare professionals are required to remain compassionate, professional and most importantly, provide the most effective medical care to their patients.
There are three key considerations that impact their ability to do so:
Working conditions, workplace relationships and ensuring basic needs are met
Training, development, leadership and effective teams
Autonomy, acceptable work patterns, impact on fatigue and a fair schedule
While each of the above factors are of considerable importance, evidence suggests that the impact of excessive work demands is the most influential on patient care.
The healthcare industry is known for its excessive work demands, fostering an unbalanced culture of long shift patterns and missed breaks. But what must be remembered is that doctors and care workers have lives outside their working environment too - and that an adequate work/life balance is necessary to improve their overall wellbeing.
The statistics in overworked doctors aren’t lacking. In one report alone, it was found that nearly half of NHS staff worked beyond their rostered hours in the last year whilst up to 40% reported being unwell due to work stress alone.
The way doctors respond to this ongoing problem is changing. Many are taking matters into their own hands by taking a leave of absence, reducing their working hours, or sadly for some, leaving the profession altogether due to the intensity of the workplace.
Yet there are many opportunities to overcome this mammoth concern.
Tackling this issue - whilst no easy feat - can be achieved a number of methods, just one of which is by investing time into reviewing staff rotas in a way that optimises the way organisations use their resources effectively.
Standards need to be met that enable realistic forecasting, allowing for varied work patterns, flexible shift swapping and an awareness of doctor fatigue. Rotas also need to be designed to account for entitled breaks which can not only affect job ability but incur a financial penalty if missed.
The most effective way to achieve thoughtful rostering is by instilling a collaborative approach and including workers who understand the demands placed upon them. There must be a clear process in place for all rota coordinators and a constant consideration for the impact of a career in medicine.
According to the NHS’ Good Rostering Guide, technological solutions should be used where possible to support healthcare employees’ wellbeing inclusive of training needs.
The biggest hurdle with intelligent scheduling is overcoming the varying work environments and specialities found in the healthcare industry. But with data-driven software, you can craft smart schedules that combine hundreds of data points to deliver optimised, compliant rostering.
Currently used by healthcare practices across the UK, Rotageek is a workforce management solution that uses historical data, recent trends, event effects and individual requirements to accurately predict labour demand per location by quarter hour increment.
The AI-driven engine not only improves accurate forecasting but also drives employee satisfaction by inputting individual preferences and needs. Doctors have the ability to swap (and pick up) shifts on the platform directly (with set rules and authorisation processes in place) with any changes being updated immediately on the rota. This approach is proven invaluable for employee autonomy and reducing the volume of overworked NHS staff.
Auto scheduling software is critical to reversing the brain drain of UK doctors. As the pressure on the healthcare industry only increases, so does the importance of efficient organisation to improve doctor wellbeing and provide the best possible patient care.