As a healthcare provider, you have likely felt consumed by COVID-19 and the never-ending challenge of delivering care while keeping your population as safe and as healthy as possible during a pandemic.
These unusual circumstances have taken a significant toll on everyone in the healthcare system. The dual challenges of managing home and work can become magnified by the stakes of being on the front lines of the pandemic. Ensuring access to critical health services is an organizational priority and an opportunity to align internal resources and teams to maximize impact.
Stress Levels Are Higher Than Ever
In August of 2020, 58% of physicians reported having feelings of burnout often, compared to 40% in 2018, according to The Physicians Foundation 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians: COVID-19’s Impact on Physician Wellbeing. Additionally, 50% of physicians have experienced inappropriate anger, tearfulness or anxiety as a result of COVID-19’s effects on their practice or employment.
While alarming, these numbers make sense considering the extreme circumstances healthcare staff has worked under over the past seven months. Many have had to watch patients die alone due to quarantine restrictions, and experience guilt over not being able to do more. Additionally, healthcare employees work under high risk of exposure to the virus, which can lead to anxiety about contracting COVID-19 and spreading it to family members and friends. Some are navigating remote work environments in an industry not historically designed for collaboration, with all facing logistical questions of family, schooling, and work-life balance. Throw in job uncertainty and trends toward consolidation, and it’s a lot of compounded stress.
Mental Health for Healthcare Employees Is Lagging
All of this points to the very real need for healthcare employees to engage with mental healthcare services, but the statistics show that this isn’t happening. According to the Physicians Foundation survey, only 13% of physicians have sought medical attention for a mental health problem as a result of COVID-19 effects.
There are many potential reasons for this, including established barriers like a stigma in the medical community around asking for help or privacy concerns within an employer system, along with new barriers like COVID-19 exposure risks with in-person care. Health systems must find ways to overcome these barriers to action in order to support the mental health and well-being of their employees during and beyond the pandemic.
Design Mental Well-being Programs that Treat the Whole Person
More findings from the Physicians Foundation survey highlight the different support systems physicians have been leaning on during COVID-19. Family members, friends, and colleagues were reported to be the most helpful, while 56% of physicians said their medical practice or group has been somewhat-to-very helpful and 40% said the same of their hospital or health system.
One way healthcare employers can care for their people right now is through the employee health benefits programs they offer. Due to the high sense of urgency around clinician burnout, you may have multiple teams looking to quickly assemble mental wellness offerings.
While it is important to respond to the current situation, this is also an opportunity to build alignment for a long-term program that addresses mental health needs from a holistic perspective. This means working to form a better understanding of your employees – their behavioral biases, barriers, motivations, and environmental factors. With a fuller picture of each individual, you can design mental wellness programs that really make a difference in combating stress, anxiety, and depression. As a result, your clinicians can deliver higher quality care, leading to improved patient outcomes overall.
Lirio Moves Healthcare Employees to Better Mental Well-being
The Lirio behavior change AI platform supports employer mental well-being programs, with a unique understanding of the challenges faced by health systems. Through the combination of behavioral science and artificial intelligence, we apply Precision Nudging™ across your employee population to drive adoption of both digital and traditional mental wellness resources.
This process includes the following steps:
- Start with Behavioral Science: We encode behavioral science expertise into the platform, designed to address the unique barriers and benefits to engaging employees with mental well-being offerings.
- Develop Hyper-Personalized Messaging: Our behavioral reinforcement learning agent identifies what behavioral science solutions are working for specific people – such as behavioral techniques that promote favorable attitudes toward medical professionals seeking care for stress and anxiety. It then prioritizes this technique into hyper-personalized messages that are deployed at scale.
- Facilitate Continuous Learning: The learning agent becomes more intelligent over time, identifying the behavioral science solutions that will work for each individual based on the individual’s previous interactions, and the interactions of similar individuals within the population.
Register for Our Webinar
Lirio partner Bon Secours Mercy Health has implemented many of these elements in its Be Well program for employees. Recently honored with the Business Group on Health’s 20 Best Employers: Excellence in Health & Well-Being Silver Award, the program creates environments that make the right behaviors easy and provides resources to guide healthy behaviors.
Learn more about the program by joining us for a live webinar, “Caring for the Caregivers: Engaging Healthcare Staff in Mental Well-being Support,” on Thursday, October 29 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Nicole Martel Director, Benefits & Well-being, and Anna Derksen, Manager of Well-being and Recognition Operations, for Bon Secours Mercy Health will share how they assembled these employee health and well-being resources and discuss the opportunity for strategic, campaign-driven approaches to engagement.
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