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Clinic to Cloud survey finds private practices are struggling to cope with admin, stress and burnout due to pandemic

September 24, 2020

New Clinic to Cloud survey reveals COVID-19 causing added burden on an already stretched healthcare system in Australia. 

A recent survey undertaken by Clinic to Cloud reveals COVID-19 has further stretched an already overburdened healthcare sector in the last six months, with practices reporting they are struggling with extra administrative burden, and both practices and patients reporting an increase in stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Surveying over 200 healthcare professionals and practice managers in private practice, the survey, Building a better practice beyond COVID-19, found time management is the biggest concern for 43% of healthcare workers. This was followed by administrative burden (41%), with 54% seeing an increase in credit card payment processing over the telephone, and 69% seeing an increase in administration, paperwork and document management.

This has led to 31% of healthcare workers experiencing an increase in stress and burnout, an issue which was already a significant problem before the pandemic. Private practices are also seeing patients also struggling, with 71% healthcare workers reporting an increase in patient stress and anxiety, 50% saw an increase in patient appointment confusion and no-shows, and 40% reporting an increase in managing patient expectations.

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Understandably, remote working and telehealth is on the rise across private practice, with 54% working remotely more often now compared to pre-COVID, and 11% working completely virtually. Meanwhile 61% said over a quarter of weekly consults occur via telehealth, and 23% said three quarters or more of weekly consults occur via telehealth.

CEO of Clinic to Cloud, Rafic Habib, says healthcare workers are under enormous pressure to do more with less revenue, so it is unfortunately inevitable many would be buckling under the weight of practice and patient expectations.

“Our results are unfortunately not surprising. The challenges today of balancing quality care versus efficiency of costs and time management are even more prevalent than before the pandemic,” he explains.

“Prior to the pandemic, there would be patients in the rooms, in the waiting room, and doctors seeing one patient after another. Now healthcare professionals have to operate in a virtual, ‘contactless’ environment to protect staff and patients.”

“At the same time, there’s the pressure to pay salaries, keep up with costs, and try and maintain a certain level of income. And the balance of all that is very challenging. So how do they achieve efficiency and cost savings, yet maintain a thriving practice?”

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Despite the obvious stress and admin burden increasing, future growth is still a priority, with 53% of respondents looking to invest and grow over the next six months, and only 2% are looking to downsize/cut back. Additionally, 52% are maintaining spend in technology solutions that support virtual and remote clinical and practice management, such as cloud solutions, online payments, telehealth, mobile apps, and only 5% are cutting back in this area.

Other findings include:
Healthcare workers report they are having challenges with adapting to virtual care/telehealth (38%), Communicating with patients (34%), Increased workload (32%)
35% saw an increase in patient document management
29% (one in three) saw an increase in patient registration and processing issues

Rafic says patient expectations are also higher, and expect a level of care to be maintained, even while practices are operating remotely. Key to balancing all this will be using technology to find efficiencies and cost savings in administration, while empowering patients to manage their own health.

“I believe that technology will be at the forefront of every discussion in the healthcare sector moving forward. Practices are asking for more help using technology. They're looking for efficiencies, to maintain patient engagement and to make their business more profitable and safer, with more decision support and greater protection around them from a technology perspective - to ensure they continue to deliver the highest care possible,” he says.


About the Survey

Clinic to Cloud surveyed over 200 practice managers, allied healthcare professionals and specialists in private practice in August 2020 for the survey, to identify changes in practice management and patient engagement over the previous six months. Download the survey here.

 

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Rafic Habib
Rafic Habib is the Founder and CEO of Clinic to Cloud. Rafic has spent almost two decades in the healthcare technology industry and has a unique appreciation for the level of pressure and intensity the sector falls under in both private and public practice. Rafic identified the opportunity to leverage technology to optimise practice operations, improve patient experiences and improve the financial performances of clinics.
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