Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, mental and, often, physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.

Provider burnout has reached frightening levels, and research proves that healthcare professional burnout is associated with negative clinical outcomes and higher rates of medical errors, and it directly affects quality of care.

Before the pandemic, 42% of providers in the United States were suffering from burnout, costing the healthcare system an astounding $4.6 billion per year, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Studies related to burnout during COVID are showing numbers that are continuing to trend upwards.

During the public health emergency, healthcare providers have responded selflessly and altruistically, at their own expense. Although most report that their sense of mission and dedication to healthcare has never been higher, they also report feeling exhausted and disconnected from their personal lives. Overall, physicians and other caregivers are working longer hours, covering more acutely ill patients and juggling work-life balance.

Although many experts recommend better self-care by promoting regular sleep, good nutrition, exercise and nurturing personal relationships, it can be a struggle for physicians and other healthcare professionals to find the time to do this. 

Policy changes during the COVID-19 pandemic have reduced barriers to telehealth access. Those changes have promoted the use of on-call telehealth services to deliver acute, chronic, primary and specialty care.

In a survey performed by Medscape, 35% of physicians said that burnout could be reduced by “more manageable work schedule/call hours.”

Companies such as Third Eye Health provide care coordination, risk management and on-call physician services, enabling long-term care facilities to treat residents and patients in place. Third Eye Health provides on-call services to assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities, as well as accountable care organizations, allowing primary care providers to get much-needed rest at night, on weekends and holidays.

Aligned with evidence that burnout can be reduced with some investment, providing an on-call telehealth solution suggests substantial economic value. Recognizing physicians and other healthcare professionals as individuals, and providing support for those workflows, has demonstrated the benefits of reducing burnout as well as evidence of improving patient health outcomes such as treat-in-place and return to acute rates as well as addressing gaps in coverage.

By encouraging normal working hours, providers can help physicians and other healthcare professionals maintain normal lives outside of their working environments. Time to reconnect with family and for self-care is rejuvenating provider enthusiasm for care during more predictable scheduled time with communities, facilities, residents and patients.

 Megan Lenthe, RN, BSN, MBA, is director of product for Third Eye Health.