2022 saw a mass exodus of employees from the U.S. labor market – the Great Resignation, as it’s been dubbed by media outlets – and research shows healthcare is the second-most affected industry. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 3.6% more healthcare workers quit their jobs in 2021 than in the previous year (the tech industry had the highest quit rate, at 4.5%). Why healthcare and tech? The Covid-19 pandemic placed increased demands and workloads on employees in these industries, study authors noted.
How the Great Resignation Affects Care Management Teams
For years, staffing shortages and high-stress work environments have contributed to low satisfaction among healthcare workers. Factor in the additional pandemic-related issues, and we arguably have an epidemic of burnout and turnover among healthcare workers. Behind-the-scenes roles like care managers, care coordinators, and service coordinators are not immune. They face role-specific challenges including increased caseloads, the needs of high-complexity members, and dwindling community resources, services, and supports available to members. Learn about the positive changes health plans can make to increase happiness among care management roles and clinical team members, reduce burnout, and help attract and retain new talent.
Factors that Contribute to Low Satisfaction for the Care Management Team
Ensuring better retention of care management team members starts with understanding the causes of low job satisfaction in the first place. The reasons fall into a few major categories: Poor understanding of roles and job duties. People often have a poor understanding of what care managers and service coordinators actually do on a daily basis. This is the root cause of some pretty major detractors to job satisfaction:
- Because these individuals typically are licensed nurses, they often are asked to provide support for clinical initiatives (e.g., Covid-19 vaccination clinics), diverting them from the day-to-day tasks they already struggle to complete.
- Providers and payers often leave care management roles out of the loop, not realizing the level of information they need to make sure members receive effective treatment and connect with appropriate services and resources.
- Newly hired care managers and service coordinators often receive insufficient training and unclear information regarding job duties and expectations.
- Care managers and service coordinators are not on the frontlines of healthcare. Rather than saving lives with IVs and emergency interventions, they’re behind the scenes, working to ensure that members receive the right treatment from the right providers at the right time.
Feeling ineffective at work. Care managers and service coordinators often feel unable to do what drew them to the healthcare field in the first place: make a positive impact on people’s lives. Some top contributing factors here include:
- Inefficient workplace processes and administrative burdens (e.g., documentation) drain time from the day. This limits the opportunity for meaningful engagement with members, which is critical to securing their trust and participation in care and treatment.
- Lack of visibility into the member record prevents delivery of effective, value-based care. Care managers need a full picture of a member’s care. But without a centralized location to access these critical details – screening and assessment results, interventions and treatments, medication adherence and care goals, progress and barriers – care managers and service coordinators are left in the dark.
- Working reactively rather than proactively tends to be the norm in healthcare. And that’s a stressful way to work. Just keeping up with seemingly endless changes in process, policy, and workflow can feel like a full-time job. For care managers, staying on top of shifting regulatory requirements presents an additional challenge.
Mental and emotional exhaustion. Care managers often end up “owning” all of a member’s problems. This can contribute to low morale and compassion fatigue if they don’t feel properly equipped to address nonclinical problems that can contribute to poor health and outcomes. Related to this is the pressure to churn cases through the system. Care managers know they need to get members on the path to self-management quickly so they can move on to help others in the care population. Without efficient work processes and communication, that’s a huge (and stressful) challenge.
How Health Plans Can Fix the Work Experience for Care Team Members
Turnover isn’t just an HR problem – it’s a C-level problem that negatively impacts quality of care, member outcomes, reimbursement, reputation, and profit (hiring is expensive!). Here’s how payers can address the problems contributing to low job satisfaction and turnover among care team members. Provide adequate training and resources. Position new hires for success on the job from day one. Clearly lay out goals, job duties, scope, and expectations. Make sure they have easy access to all resources that will help them work more effectively toward delivering value-based care for every member. Support collaborative relationships and communication. Work on strategies and systems that will keep everyone looped in and working collaboratively:
- The care management team needs buy-in and engagement not only from members but also from payers and providers.
- Members need to receive clear, consistent communication throughout the care process.
- Interdisciplinary team members need a way to easily share and access information.
- The care team needs strong, collaborative relationships with other treatment facilities and resources in the community.
Recognize the contributions the care management team makes. These employees save lives over the phone and online, linking members to crucial resources and providers. They educate on disease progression, medications, the importance of adherence, and self-management. A milestone moment might involve a member proactively scheduling an appointment for the first time instead of winding up in the ED. Celebrating these small but life-changing victories that members achieve, thanks to care managers, is important. Reduce inefficiencies in processes and workflows. Assess workflows and processes to identify communication gaps and siloed information, as well as opportunities to streamline or even eliminate clunky or unnecessary steps. Make sure technology helps, not hinders, job performance. Technology can make our lives at work exponentially easier. Except when it doesn’t. Too often, tech ends up working against what care managers and clinical team members need most (i.e., more time and less complexity.) Too many screens to jump through, too many clicks to reach vital member data? Game over.
How Can a Care Management Software Platform Help?
Finding a Platform that Will Help, Not Hurt, Job Satisfaction
Rather than contribute to burnout, effective care management software will serve as a tool to boost job satisfaction and overall happiness. Through automation, AI, and centralized data access, software can empower care team workers to
- Build strong relationships with members. With quick access to member demographics and other relevant data, care managers can make authentic connections that spark engagement. Automated alerts that keep care managers updated on transitions of care or other events help them intervene immediately, securing trust (and better outcomes). In-platform capabilities like text messaging, emails, and video conferencing support fast, reliable communication with members.
- Offload the mental stress of having to remember so many critical tasks. A system that triggers automated reminders for tasks like member or provider follow-up, or provides real-time alerts on care transitions, reduces the cognitive burden for care managers. (They might even be able to break up with sticky notes…).
- Make decisions regarding care management services and support with more confidence. Software with clinical and care coordination pathways removes the guesswork (and the need for a whole lot of manual searching) to determine best practices for assessments, interventions, and parameters and timelines for follow-up.
- Work more productively and efficiently. The more efficiently care managers can work, the more cases they can take on – which they know is a major goal of the job. The software can alleviate administrative burdens by automating manual tasks. For example, documentation can be streamlined by limiting free-text documentation and pre-populating fields when possible.
- Work more collaboratively with interdisciplinary teams, providers, and payers. With a centralized member record, everyone involved in care stays in synch on care notes, assessments, progress, interventions, and claims data. This promotes continuity of care for the member and gives the care team time back that they would have spent hunting for information.
- Achieve closed-loop visibility to bridge care gaps for members. Well-designed software tracks and alerts care managers when a member has followed through on an appointment, for example, or a referral for a community resource like food assistance. This functionality makes it much easier to close care gaps and saves time spent on manual follow-up.
- Take the stress out of quality reporting and measuring. Tracking these measurements is critical to the success of a care management program – and compliance is on the line, too. However, it’s easy for staff to miss documenting the required metrics related to SLAs and regulatory standards. A platform like HELIOS helps by standardizing documentation forcing users to include required components, and offering reporting dashboards that serve as one-stop-shops to help care managers easily grab critical metrics, saving a lot of time.
With more than a decade of experience helping care teams work smarter and faster, VirtualHealth has discovered some common themes around what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to care management technology. Set up a free consult with our Sales team to see if HELIOS could help you reduce staff burnout and drive care management efficiencies across the board.