In October 2014, Black Book Market Research released a survey on nurses’ perceptions of EHR. The results, to be frank, were not good. The majority of the 14,000 registered nurses polled reported that EHR causes disruptions in productivity, workflow, and communication. For more details you can read my previous post on the survey results.
I wasn’t totally shocked by the nurses’ frustration with EHR. I’ve experienced poor implementation of an EHR system, and I’ve heard many of my nurse friends complain about the various systems they use at work. One thing that did shock me was this: “69% of nurses in for-profit inpatient settings report their IT department as ‘incompetent’ when describing the level of expertise their organization’s in-house staff has working with the selected EHR software.”
Incompetent is a really harsh word. It means you don’t know how to use a mouse or plug in a computer. Basically, it means you are incapable of doing your job. The statement made me cringe and I started to feel really, really bad for IT professionals. I tend to think most people don’t go to work with the intention of screwing up all day. Sure, there may be a few slackers who don’t care about the quality of their work, but I truly think make up only a small percentage of workers. It made me a little sad that this benefit of the doubt wasn’t extended to our IT colleagues.
But what was even sadder is that this negative sentiment about IT professionals is not unusual. In a 2010 article “IT can be a breeding ground for burnout,” author Toni Bowers lists “lack of respect” as a stress factor that leads to IT career burnout. She also cites long hours, politics, and lack of recognition as contributing factors to career burnout.
Burnout is a familiar term and, unfortunately, a common experience among healthcare workers like nurses and physicians. A 2013 health care trends survey by Careerbuilder found that 56% of health care workers believe there is a high rate of burnout among themselves and their colleagues. The term was actually created in the 1970s to describe the consequences of severe stress and high ideals by people working in helping professions. It is now applied to anyone, no matter their career.
As far back as 2003, burnout has been a concern in the IT sector. Back then a study by Meta Group found 71% of IT managers said employee burnout was a serious issue for them. Ten years later a study by GFI software found that stress is still an issue. Results released in 2013 showed that 68% of all IT administrators considered their jobs stressful and 73% of respondents considered changing roles.
These surveys didn’t focus exclusively on those in health care IT but one can assume that with all the changes in health care, including Meaningful Use and ACA implementation, health care IT workers are just as prone to burnout as their counterparts in other areas.
How do you know if you are experiencing burnout? According to this Forbes article you may have symptoms like:
- Lack of motivation
- Negative emotions like cynicism
- Decreased job performance
- Interpersonal problems
- Ignoring self-care
- Preoccupation with work
- Decreased satisfaction
- Health issues
You can also take a burnout self-assessment here.
If you’re experiencing burnout it’s important to get help from a therapist or job counselor. The Information Technology Burnout Project is another place to find moral support and resources. Some suggestions on managing burnout highlighted in articles in Information Week and Computer World are:
- Giving yourself praise
- Delegating work
- Looking for new challenges
- Developing new skills
- Taking a vacation
Healthcare IT professionals are an important part of delivering life-saving services to patients. To provide patients with the best care possible it’s essential you are able to optimally function in your job. I urge you to please take care of yourself get help if you are experiencing career burnout. We can’t care for our patients without you!
Jennifer Thew, RN, MSJ
Latest posts by Jennifer Thew, RN, MSJ (see all)
- Telemedicine Use Primed to Keep Going Up… Up… Up - February 10, 2015
- Burnout Among Health IT Professionals - January 13, 2015
- Gathering Together to Create a Family Health History - December 2, 2014