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Jun 21, 2019

Technology’s impact on burnout in acute care – from the bedside to the webside

Estimated reading time: 5-7 minutes


We talk a lot about the quadruple aim in the healthcare industry – the goal of better health outcomes and improved patient and staff experience, all at a lower cost of care. For a long time, however, this was only known as the triple aim – the problem being it excluded the very important aspect of clinician and staff experiences.  


With clinician and nurse shortages on the rise, an increase in administrative and reporting tasks as well as an overwhelming amount of data being produced by each patient across all care settings, clinicians have become more tired and overworked than ever before. The result? We’re in the era of clinician burnout – with 44 percent of caregivers reporting to feel its effects according to a 2019 report from Medscape.


It’s because of the above factors healthcare leaders realized the triple aim wasn’t cutting it – clinician experience was the missing puzzle piece and a great effort is now being put towards improving it. The implementation of digital technologies is playing a critical role in helping to reduce this burden of burnout, while also making sure patient care remains uncompromised.

Clinicians are more tired and overworked than ever before due to the rise of clinician and nurse shortages, an increase in administrative and reporting tasks, and an overwhelming amount of data.

Clinicians are more tired and overworked than ever before due to the rise of clinician and nurse shortages, an increase in administrative and reporting tasks, and an overwhelming amount of data.

Critical care: challenges abound

One area in particular need of transformative technology and processes is the intensive care unit (ICU), as it presents unique challenges that can ripple across an entire health system. The ICU is the most expensive and human resource intensive area of care. It involves things like admission and discharge, daily routine care, and emergency events that pop up unplanned. In addition, if patients are not transferred out of the ICU and into the correct lower acuity area in a timely manner, it can cause bottlenecks that have negative impacts on patient flow throughout the hospital, and leave patients more vulnerable to problems like hospital acquired infections.


Critical patients require constant attention and consistent monitoring. The massive amount of data produced in the ICU is also a major challenge, with hundreds of data points created and processed daily.  More patient data often means less time to interpret it and react – a problem made worse when paired with clinician shortages. While this leads to staff dissatisfaction and burnout, it can also lead to medical errors and misdiagnoses. In fact, misdiagnoses in the ICU are 50 percent more common than in other areas in the hospital [1].

Connecting care across the health continuum to address these challenges

To help address these challenges, Philips offers solutions from the point-of-care, to the unit central station, to a virtualized care team – or from the bedside to the "webside.” The virtual care level specifically can have a large impact on these issues of clinician shortages and resulting burnout, as well as data management challenges. This is a trend the industry is embracing, with 69 percent of physicians saying they would be willing to use telehealth according to a recent survey from American Well.


Through the Philips eICU Program – a scalable, centralized telehealth solution – caregivers in a central monitoring facility can be remotely responsible for ICU patients, extending acute care resources by helping to support the bedside team. While this technology provides care teams with support to help reduce levels of burnout, it also provides a holistic view of their patients’ conditions so that they can more efficiently address health issues. 


For example, bedside providers in the ICU are often faced with many interruptions and moving pieces, so they tend to focus on addressing the most pressing issue contributing to a patient’s deterioration. Through the eICU Program, remote teams can take a step back and see the full patient picture, helping their bedside colleagues address issues more holistically to provide optimal care. A key component of the eICU solution that leverages artificial intelligence is its Automated Acuity (AA) scoring capability – a total acuity score calculated from six clinical measurements that each provide a targeted assessment of a patient’s trended data. Access to timely information provides an at-a-glance view of patient data to identify areas of concern – presenting information to clinicians in a more streamlined way.


The webside team can also help give the bedside team peace of mind. When an emergency requires the bedside team’s full attention on one patient, they can feel confident that their other patients are being watched over by the webside team. This consistent monitoring can also help patients and their loved ones feel more at ease. Another patient benefit of remote telehealth care is the potential for increased patient engagement in more rural areas. Virtual care provides the option for patients to access the best care via webside technology, all from their local hospital, eliminating the need to travel hundreds of miles to seek the care they need.

Technology’s continued impact on the future

The state of healthcare – where we are now and where we are headed – has paved the way for technology and new processes to help empower clinicians and improve their experience. As we look to the future of care, we expect to see technology significantly help reduce the issue of burnout, and begin to provide timely insight into patient in and their conditions. Ultimately, this will help enable the industry to move from a reactive model of care, to a proactive approach that utilizes integrated teams from the bedside to the webside.


[1] B. D. Winters et al., “Diagnostic errors in the intensive care unit: A systematic review of autopsy studies,” BMJ Qual. Saf., vol. 21, no. 11, pp. 894–902, Nov. 2012.

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Jacob Durgan

Jacob Durgan

Business Leader, Patient Care Analytics at Philips

Jacob Durgan is the GM of Patient Care Analytics at Philips where he leads the organisation addressing the needs of healthcare providers in the acute care space with informatics and broader enterprise telehealth solutions.


Prior to this role, Jacob was the Commercial Leader for Healthcare Informatics, where he was responsible for leading the commercial function across global markets for EHR, Radiology PACS, Cardiology Informatics, Oncology Informatics and Advanced Visualization.

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