While there has been some reprieve from the constant sick calls and visits that accompanied the pandemic, we are now entering the time of year when we may become inundated with them once again. When we factor in a constantly changing viral landscape, less masking, and more socializing, it’s likely we’ll see the return of influenza and possibly a surge in COVID-19 cases. This means that your office will be earning its keep by answering ringing phones, triaging patient calls, and scheduling sick visits.
Unfortunately, viral infections and ill symptoms do not keep a 9-to-5 schedule. In fact, children often start coughing uncontrollably at bedtime or spike fevers in the middle of the night, leaving parents no choice but to contact your after-hours exchange. Late night phone calls and early morning office visits can take a toll on your ability to stay healthy during a time when you are being heavily relied upon to care for others.
Maintaining work-life balance in healthcare can be quite the challenge. This was especially true during the pandemic, and healthcare workers have consistently found themselves navigating staffing shortages and increased caseloads. In our last blog, we discussed what pediatricians can expect this cold and flu season, including how to help contain the spread of these viruses. In this post, we’ll explore how your pediatric practice can prepare for the increase in calls and visits while preserving your own work-life balance.
Why Does Work-Life Balance Matter?
As pediatricians, the line between work and home life becomes especially blurry when you work in an office all day, round in the hospital after work, and can be on call through the nights and weekends. However, when it’s not your time to be on, you should allow yourself to be off. This means not answering work calls or emails when you are home.
Constantly working without set time away can lead to clinician burnout. As a physician, you know what burnout means, but it’s important to remember that the lasting impacts can lead to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. As we move into cold and flu season and call volumes increase, you must prepare for how you’ll maintain work-life balance. If you and your team begin adjusting now, you can avoid occupational burnout and its detrimental effects.
How Can My Pediatric Office Prepare for the Increase in Calls and Visits?
The falling temperatures and changing leaves are a visual reminder that winter is right around the corner — and with it, influenza. The Southern Hemisphere has already experienced its highest number of flu cases in years. Because our flu season usually mimics Australia’s, experts are anticipating the same in the United States. Have you developed an action plan for managing the increase in ill patients that will challenge your ability to maintain work-life balance? It’s never too soon to start! Here are three strategies to consider as you get ready for cold and flu season.
Start Planning Now
If you have a telehealth platform, use it and promote it on social media, at your front desk, throughout the office, and on your answering machine or voicemail. Anytime Pediatrics offers marketing materials that your office can utilize on any of these platforms to assist with educating your patients on the telehealth services you provide. If you do not offer telehealth services, now is a good time to incorporate them into your practice. Anytime Pediatrics can help your office implement a telemedicine platform that best fits your pediatric practice and your patients’ needs.
Use Telehealth Services
Telehealth is a cost-effective and time-efficient way to manage an influx of patient calls while also limiting the spread of cold and flu viruses. Your office can use telemedicine appointments to set up screening windows, a helpful way to assess whether a child needs an in-person appointment or if a virtual visit is appropriate. In addition, you can use telemedicine as part of your day-to-day process. Set up telehealth hours to handle follow-up visits, conduct other appointments that can be done remotely, and check on patients triaged during after-hours nurse calls.
Extend Telehealth Services into After Hours
One of the best ways to maintain work-life balance as a pediatrician is to have an effective and knowledgeable after-hours service. During evenings, weekends, and holidays, most parents are simply looking for reassurance, and 80 percent of urgent patient calls can be handled by a nurse on call. This frees you up to not only care for the children who must be seen by you, but it also allows you to get the physical rest and mental reprieve you need when you’re not in the office.
How Can Anytime Pediatrics Help You Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance?
Anytime Pediatrics offers both telemedicine platforms and after-hours services. Our after-hours service is staffed by registered nurses with at least five years of emergency room experience. They use Schmitt-Thompson protocols when triaging your patients so they can offer your young patients and their families consistent and accurate medical information. If appropriate, virtual triage nurses can schedule your patient for a next-day telehealth appointment with you.
This model allows your patients to receive the care they need, whenever they need it. Plus, it allows you to get the rest you require so that you can continue to care for your patients. The more you’re able to recharge, the better you’ll be able to maintain work-life balance — meaning you’re less likely to experience occupational burnout during this cold and flu season.
Are you interested in learning more about how Anytime Pediatrics can help your pediatric practice navigate the upcoming cold and flu season? Contact us today to request a consultation!