Sentara removes barriers to better support caregivers' mental health, avoid burnout
Sentara’s Save the Clicks Campaign
Part of a clinician’s duty while caring for patients is to document their health status and care plan in the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR). Feedback from healthcare professionals suggested there was a heavy burden of best practice alerts popping up, and click-throughs needed.
In 2020, Sentara created a workgroup to improve this experience for our caregivers without missing important alerts and needed documentation. Each year the workgroup identified more than 1 million alerts that were unnecessary to maintain our high-quality patient care and could be eliminated to save time.
For example, the workgroup identified registered nurses responded to nearly 3.5 million alerts in one year – resulting in nearly 6,000 hours spent clicking through and responding to alerts. Physicians and medical assistants were also responding to more than 1 million alerts, taking up more than 2,000 hours, in the same time period.
The workgroup implemented several innovative practices to better understand which alerts are helpful and necessary, and which alerts are not. They gathered feedback from clinicians, created detailed tracking reports on all clicks and alerts being used throughout the system, and continually monitored changes to alert to ensure patient and staff safety.
In two years, Sentara reduced more than 4 million unnecessary clicks and alerts for clinicians, resulting in more than 5,500 hours of time saved. This means more time for our healthcare clinicians to spend talking with patients, concerned family members, collaborating with staff, or taking a few minutes to collect their own thoughts. The workgroup continues to identify ways to improve the quality of clicks for our clinicians, but all can agree this is a great start.
Sentara Joins ALL IN: Caring for Virginia’s Caregivers Initiative
Sentara joins Virginia’s hospitals and health systems, the Medical Society of Virginia, and the Virginia Nurses Association in a statewide initiative to protect mental health and emotional wellbeing of healthcare professionals. The “ALL IN: Caring for Virginia’s Caregivers initiative” is led by the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation. Dr. Breen was an emergency department physician who died by suicide in 2020. Dr Breen is a Charlottesville native, and her brother-in-law, Corey Feist, is president and co-founder of the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation.
“My sister-in-law Dr. Lorna Breen, who died by suicide in April 2020, was convinced that if she received mental health care, she would lose her medical license or face ostracism from colleagues. Sadly, we have heard from a number of families who lost physicians to suicide and their loved ones who expressed nearly identical concerns to Lorna,” Feist said.
The ALL IN initiative focuses on the high rates of burnout and stress for clinicians, yet many of them are not seeking mental health care because of the stigma attached and fear they would lose their license or credentials. As part of our commitment to the initiative, Sentara revisited policies and hospital licensing credentialing to ensure the health system was not asking intrusive mental health questions that could pose as a barrier for clinicians to receive needed mental health treatment. Sentara audited its own credentialing, licensure applications, and peer review forms and determined the health system was not asking intrusive mental health questions. It is our commitment to continuously audit and remove any questions of this nature if they appear in the future.
Dr. Joel Bundy, Chief Quality and Safety Officer at Sentara Healthcare, is co-chair of the statewide ALL IN Steering Committee, providing expert opinions to other Virginia health systems and medical boards across the country to adapt their work in support of resiliency and mental health.
Providing free mental health resources to healthcare professionals
As we’ve outlined the importance for all caregivers to feel safe to seek out mental health treatment, Sentara Healthcare is offering free mental health resources to all employees and non-employed medical professionals throughout Virginia and North Carolina.
Sentara partners with meQuilibrium (“meQ” for short) to offer personalized mental and emotional health resources. meQ is an online therapy tool designed to help build mental and emotional resilience, address burnout and stress, and strengthen an individual’s purpose to face each day with confidence. Healthcare professionals can created their own profile tailored to their unique mental and emotional needs, and they can use meQ on their computers or through a mobile app. You can read more about Sentara’s ongoing partnership with meQ here.
In addition to individual mental health resources, Sentara is in the planning stages of creating and guiding peer support groups among its clinicians and frontline staff. Peer support groups are a proven mental health resource that can connect our caregivers with others facing similar struggles, goals, or needed resources.
By: Kelly Kennedy