Pandemic-era burnout: EHR vendor strategies to support staff

In this fourth entry in our burnout feature series, key executives at seven top electronic health record companies share the steps they’re taking to ensure their employees can manage the many stressors related to COVID-19.
By Bill Siwicki
11:43 AM

To see all of the feature stories in the Burnout in the Age of COVID-19 series, click here.

The pandemic has pushed healthcare provider organizations to demand more from their electronic health records systems – and that means EHR vendors are being pushed to do more with the technology, and do it fast.

What’s more, staff are having to work under entirely new circumstances: at home. Away from each other, away from face-to-face meetings and chat, away from usual resources. The heat is on.

This is the fourth entry in the Healthcare IT News feature story series Burnout in the Age of COVID-19. Here, executives from seven top EHR vendors discuss how stress manifests throughout their companies during the pandemic, ways to fight off that stress to prevent employee burnout and challenges they continue to face as COVID-19 burns on.

How stress materializes during the pandemic

Stress affects EHR vendor employees in different ways as new pressures emerge and safety concerns become all-consuming.

Employee safety is the top priority at NextGen Healthcare. So when the pandemic struck in March, the company immediately took action to move employees to work from home.

“After we established our work-from-home environment, questions from employees on when we will be getting back to work in an office environment, what safety measures will be required and met, and overall what the process will entail became commonplace,” said Donna Greene, executive vice president, human resources, at NextGen Healthcare. “We have taken a conservative approach and most of our employees remain working from home.”

One of the biggest struggles has been the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, she added.

“Our leadership team helped address this uncertainty and has kept employees updated, and assured them that their safety is our No. 1 priority,” she explained. “By implementing regular employee pulse surveys, we learned that our team appreciates that NextGen puts their safety first.”

"Employees have grown accustomed to virtual calls throughout the day, and the boundaries of personal and work have blurred."

Donna Greene, NextGen Healthcare

At the same time, the vendor’s IT team members were under a lot of pressure, and they moved very quickly to provide equipment such as laptops to team members previously working on desktop systems. Since NextGen is a global organization, it has been able to seamlessly serve its clients while moving to a remote work environment, Greene said.

“It was very important that our employees and operations remained safe and strong, so we could support our healthcare providers across the country who rely on our software and services,” she said. “Our team worked long hours to make sure that our clients had the tools they needed, such as our telehealth solutions, to keep their practices open and continue treating patients during this health crisis. In fact, our support team was onboarding clients in as little 24 hours to a few days.”

This pressure obviously causes stress, which can result in employee burnout and fatigue, she noted.

“Team members who normally went to an office every day were adjusting to a new virtual environment,” she said. “At home, many people are juggling a lot behind the scenes. There are various school district situations with kids learning remotely, caring for elderly parents, [and] spouses who are also working from home full or part-time. These are just a few of the dynamics that have added stress to employees who are trying to stay present, accountable and productive in their own work day.”

The increased use of virtual meetings also has brought about meeting fatigue, Greene added.

“Employees have grown accustomed to virtual calls throughout the day, and the boundaries of personal and work have blurred,” she noted. “Many employees don’t have a designated workspace at home, so they needed to get creative. We’ve heard of people working in their kitchens, basements and garages. It’s a challenge to stay focused when you’re not in your regular workspace and the surroundings aren’t optimal for concentration and work calls.”

The blurry line between home and work

Melissa Swanfeldt, associate vice president, quality and staff development, at Meditech, picks up on that same theme.

“Managing the blur between home life and work life has been stressful for everyone during this unpredictable time – but especially for those of us working in healthcare,” Swanfeldt said. “I’ve seen employees consistently go above and beyond to support customers through successful go-lives, updates and day-to-day support as they are faced with a new reality that also brings unexpected furloughs, census reductions, disruptions in supply chain and, in many cases, increasing COVID-19 admissions.”

Shifting from on-site to remote training and support has presented challenges, while new COVID-19 regulations have added workloads to deploy software changes within compressed timelines, she said.

“We’ve seen exponential growth in the adoption of virtual care technologies, as many of our customers have quickly moved toward connecting with patients online, to help curb disease spread and keep communities safe,” Swanfeldt said. “As the pandemic became more of a reality, the benefits of our solution were quickly recognized – but this also came with many challenges.”

Meditech staff was faced with adapting existing functionality (which had previously been implemented for only a subset of use-cases) for clients to replace the majority of their in-person visits.

“This meant creating new workflows and documentation, creating all-new virtual training sessions, and creating new guidance documentation, all tailored specifically to COVID-19,” Swanfeldt said. “Our teams worked tirelessly to quickly shift gears and streamline our efforts, forming a Virtual Visit Task Force to rapidly deploy our solution to all eligible customers.”

Two strategies that help staff are being able to work at home and having more flexibility in managing their paid time off.

“Balancing home and work responsibilities was critical to avoiding staff burnout and delivering for customers on such a time crunch,” Swanfeldt said. “Through our confidential employee assistance program, we also offer resources and services related to anxiety and stress management, coping with grief, financial counseling, and parenting and family services.”

The challenges of working from home

On March 15, 2020, Cerner shifted its global workforce of more than 25,000 associates to remote working due to the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the company enters the eighth month of remote work, execs there understand the challenges employees continue to face, and are working to address those hurdles.

“Our associates have expressed experiencing challenges, including working from home while caring for children, not having access to appropriate office equipment, inadequate space in the home for a productive work environment, and general anxiety related to health, safety, finances, physical distancing and isolation,” said Dr. Eva Karp, senior vice president and chief clinical and patient safety officer at Cerner.

“Early in our transition to remote work, Cerner set up internal websites and forums to serve as a hub for associates to get information and connect with one another for support,” she continued. “Content available through these associate-facing information hubs includes blog posts featuring tips on working remotely, support resources for parents, and podcasts/webinars focused on mental health and coping strategies.”

Additionally, internal online forums were created to support associates, share ideas and commiserate about the challenges of full-time remote work. This included everything from ergonomic desk set-ups to tips for virtual team building.

Cerner also offers daily Well-Being Connect opportunities, including virtual fitness classes, guided meditations and mobility exercise training, to help address the mental and physical stress some may be experiencing. All associates have access to counseling and work/life services support through a confidential Associate Assistance Program.

“In a pulse survey distributed to Cerner associates in April, 92% of respondents said Cerner handled workforce safety and communications effectively following the pandemic,” Karp added.

Change and uncertainty

As with most crises, the COVID-19 pandemic has required immediate action and change to solve new challenges and problems. And for the majority of individuals, change often is difficult, and such situations affect people very differently.

“During this pandemic, we have worked to recognize the stressful impact of uncertainty on our teams, customers and their families by providing clarity, communicating with calmness and empathy, and truly listening to the concerns and needs of our employees to combat added stress as a result of the pandemic,” said Richard Atkin, CEO of Greenway Health.

"As the pandemic became more of a reality, the benefits of our [telehealth] solution were quickly recognized – but this also came with many challenges."

Melissa Swanfeldt, Meditech

“When COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic back in March, for example, we immediately shifted to remote work,” he continued. “While we had a small subset of remote workers at Greenway before, the majority of our workforce had been based in the physical office.

“Therefore,” he continued, “employees were not only dealing with the initial stresses and concerns of the pandemic, but a complete shift in lifestyle as they made the transition to remote work – setting up their home office space, ensuring sufficient WiFi speed and capabilities, establishing new daily routines – all while dealing with concern for loved ones, children’s education and much more.”

While this was a 180-degree change from what the majority of employees were used to, the company made sure to keep the lines of communication open. Today, many employees have found the remote environment more desirable than in-office working, and 75% of the Greenway team has elected to remain remote full-time beyond the current pandemic.

“Another situation that caused initial stress at the onset of the pandemic was our team truly feeling the pain points and needs of our customers who were on the front lines of the pandemic,” Atkin said.

“Our customers were dependent on us to help them navigate these unprecedented times, so workloads naturally increased. Many passionate members of our team have worked diligently during this time to better serve our customers, which included the swift development and launch of two new products designed to meet customer needs during the pandemic – GRS Express and Greenway Telehealth.”

While workloads naturally increased, however, it was important to the leadership team that they recognized this and made accommodations accordingly, such as implementing flexible work hours to help alleviate such stressors.

Strategies to help staff members avoid burnout

Cerner is approaching its support of employees holistically, looking at both workplace productivity and overall wellbeing.

“This includes the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of associates and their families during a pandemic,” Karp, of Cerner, said.

“As part of Cerner’s robust benefits offerings, My Life Resources is available to help our workforce better cope with any prolonged stress caused by the pandemic. My Life Resources offers services at no cost to associates, including virtual clinical counseling, legal and financial counseling and advice, and work-life services. This benefit includes up to six confidential counseling sessions per situation and is available to Cerner associates and dependents.”

My Life Resources also provides associates access to a confidential, 24-hour crisis line for anyone who needs help as they try to cope with feelings of fear, sadness, anger and hopelessness. Crisis line callers will speak directly to a masters-level, certified licensed mental health clinician and may also seek information to and guidance from other resources, like community-based support.

“Work-Life Services also are available through this benefit to guide child or senior care, college planning, home improvement projects, or anything else life throws our way,” Karp said. “My Life Resources agents can help assist associates concerned about the health, wellbeing and safety of elderly family members by providing information about the full spectrum of adult care community resources.”

Based on associate feedback as the new school year began, Cerner expanded family-support programming to include more options, such as academic tutoring and finding additional care resources. Cerner’s on-site childcare center reopened as soon as possible when shelter-in-place restrictions were lifted, and has been continuously operating with pandemic-appropriate safety precautions.

Effective communication reduces anxiety

Timely, effective communication has been key to helping reduce anxiety for the team in this evolving landscape, said Greene of NextGen Healthcare.

“We have been very transparent with our employees and shared our plans on working from home as they have evolved,” she said. “Our human resources and communication teams have done a tremendous job of increasing employee outreach. We immediately began hosting live updates with our CEO and leadership team via webcast town halls. We spend time on our town halls addressing staff questions and providing any updates, progress or programs that we are offering to help staff get through this health crisis.”

"Early in our transition to remote work, Cerner set up internal websites and forums to serve as a hub for associates to get information and connect with one another for support."

Dr. Eva Karp, Cerner

Regular town hall meetings with employees have been an effective way for NextGen to stay connected and inform the team about changes, she added. Continuous postings on the employee intranet, Slack chat channels and emails also have provided much-needed guidance and information, she said.

“Another strategy that has been helpful during this period is utilizing multiple modalities for communicating important messages,” she said. “People consume information in a variety of ways, so we post important updates on multiple employee channels such as instant messaging, town halls, trainings, user guides and video recordings.”

"Clarity, consistency, creativity, content and connections"

When a company shifts to remote work, a certain element of communication is lost. So the goal at Greenway Health was to be transparent and communicate effectively – and more frequently – to ensure teams knew that even though the company was going through a lot of adjustments, the No. 1 priority was to ensure clients, who were on the front lines of the pandemic, got the software, services and support needed to continue delivering care to their communities, Atkin said.

Then the company sought feedback about how it could further improve its processes as everyone gained experience working remotely, he added.

“To further help alleviate burnout during this time, we’ve practiced the ‘5 C’s’ of effective communication – clarity, consistency, creativity, content and connections,” he explained. “I personally began recording weekly videos from my home office to share company news and updates across the organization. Cross-functional teams began scheduling coffee meetings and virtual lunches to keep our culture alive, despite not being together in person.”

And Greenway’s “People Leaders” put greater emphasis on the overall health and wellbeing of teams, encouraging downtime and days off. As a part of the benefits program, for example, the company has open PTO that it calls “MyTime.” So, all team members – regardless of their job title, role or responsibility – are encouraged and supported to use MyTime as needed.

“Because most traditional vacations were limited, we encouraged employees to still take time off and spend time with families or simply step away for a mental break or mental health day,” he said. “We especially emphasized this during Mental Health Awareness Month, where we ran an internal campaign for employees focused on how to adjust routines for a healthy lifestyle and to achieve work-life balance.”

For some employees, taking a personal day in the midst of the pandemic was the key to relief, and for others it was all about providing them with tips and best practices for restructuring their daily routines, he said.

“Regardless, our leadership team partnered with each employee to ensure we were meeting their specific needs and doing everything we could to keep teams feeling positive, productive, rested and motivated,” he said. “Our leadership team modeled these healthy behaviors themselves by also taking time off, taking brain breaks throughout the work day, etc.”

Fostering connectedness

Swanfeldt of Meditech said that making culture and connection a priority has been very important.

“We were challenged early on with how to keep our culture strong when the team is not used to working remotely all the time,” she said. “Each group within the company has their own unique personality through their shared experiences, collaborative work and inside jokes — and we needed to find ways to keep those connections alive.”

She outlined a few ways Meditech has been fostering connectedness to support its people and help them cope:

  • Frequent executive communication is an integral part of the COVID-19 response, as virtual town hall meetings provide a forum to share information and answer team members’ questions and concerns.
  • Transparent, open communication from leadership is published weekly on the company intranet to keep all staff up to speed.
  • Regular newsletters share how staff members are working from home and staying connected with their families and friends.
  • Video connections with both employees and customers are strongly encouraged.
  • Many in management start meetings by taking the first five minutes to chat and connect with people before moving into an agenda.
  • Reaching out specifically to newer staff to see if they need help with anything or just to talk, helping to keep these employees engaged.
  • Having “no-work-zone” meetings and virtual “walks to the cafe” help all to stay connected socially and foster a sense of community.

Flexible hours

One strategy Allscripts has undertaken to help associates avoid burnout during the pandemic is offering flexible work hours.

“We know that many of our associates may be working longer hours and have additional duties in response to business and client needs,” said Erikka Buracchio, senior vice president of human resources at Allscripts. “Allscripts encourages leaders in the company to be flexible and work with their team members who may have unique challenges and needs. This is especially important for those who live in multigenerational homes, perhaps with children attending school virtually, or with an aging parent under their care.”

"Our customers were dependent on us to help them navigate these unprecedented times, so workloads naturally increased."

Richard Atkin, Greenway Health

Overall, the company emphasizes the importance of compassion and understanding, she stresses.

“We believe we will get through this faster if we all work together and embrace a culture of grace and empathy,” she said. “It’s our duty to be as supportive as possible of our associates and, in turn, [that] they be as supportive as possible of our clients.”

Care packages and virtual interns

During the stressful time of the pandemic, athenahealth has strived to understand the unique needs of employees and continues to provide flexibility to negate employee burnout, said Fran Lawler, chief human resources officer at athenahealth.

“To help combat added stress brought on by the pandemic, athenahealth has developed and implemented some great initiatives across the organization,” she said. “Some of the new initiatives include care packages for our new employees, a fully virtual intern program, continued flexible time-off for our salaried employees, added days off for our hourly employees, and pandemic-premium pay for those on the front lines.”

The company also has taken this time to learn directly from employees, and it has done multiple surveys and community forums to become responsive to employee needs, she added.

“The feedback received from our employees has directly impacted what initiatives we introduced to reduce stressors,” she explained. “Some additional initiatives include creating community through virtual yoga and peloton challenges.”

Managing time

Like at the other EHR vendors, everyone at DrChrono now is remote. Leadership started giving talks to the team about strategies like meditation to help with the stress of the change.

“We believe everyone should have the right to take time off the way they need it,” said Daniel Kivatinos, COO and cofounder of DrChrono. “Some people use their PTO time to take Fridays off to avoid burnout, others like to block out a future vacation where they have something to look forward to.”

The company has had several coping meetings to talk about how to manage time without burnout, along with having some events designed to foster employees’ mental health.

“Offering great health benefits also is important,” he said. “We have great health benefits, and with all of the options we offer, [they allow] our team to pick what they need for their personal care team.”

Tools for engineering, leadership and the whole staff

Kivatinos pointed out that DrChrono has anti-burnout tools designed for engineering staff, leadership and the whole team.

“On the engineering side, we use a solution called to help give feedback to the engineering team about how to handle specific situations,” he explained. “Some engineers want to learn about how to structure their teams; others want feedback on how to motivate team members; and others want to learn about product processes.”

"It’s our duty to be as supportive as possible of our associates and, in turn, they be as supportive as possible of our clients."

Erikka Buracchio, Allscripts

Investing in the team is paramount and having the team feel like they are growing is important, he added. It is great to see the banter and ideas that flow and how excited the team gets around having career growth and support, he said.

“We also provide our leaders executive coaching through a company called,” Kivatinos said. “It is an executive-coaching program, along with software that helps invest in our leadership. We have a lot of Type-A personalities who want the best for the company, and a coach can give insight. Executive coaching can walk an executive through perhaps a personal situation that is stressful that is affecting their work. When you have a leader who feels like they have an outlet for candid feedback, it helps with possible burnout.”

And for the company-wide team, DrChrono offers equipment that fits them. For example, some team members want a standing desk, while others ask for a specific chair, he said.

“We gave everyone at DrChrono an Apple Watch, which also helps nudge around health and exercise with things like ‘Close your Rings,’“ he added. “At the end of the day, a company is really the people and the product: You have to invest in both to make it work.”

E-learning and Microsoft Teams

At Greenway Health, the company has developed and provided new tools, resources and wellness support to ensure all employees are equipped with the items they need to succeed in this new environment, Atkin said.

“This focus started at the tactical level, helping our employees learn the basics of new communications channels like Microsoft Teams, and switching from paper copies and physical whiteboards to shared files and online collaboration,” he explained. “With the fully remote environment being new to so many of us, we needed to ensure our teams could not only adapt and implement these tools and resources, but that they also understood their full capabilities and functionalities.”

The company also worked to address the psychological aspects of the pandemic by offering e-learning resources with tips on working from home, parenting school-aged children during quarantine, refreshers on maintaining mental wellness, and much more, he added. And Greenway launched a program called Wellbeats specifically designed to enable physical and mental wellness in a remote work environment.

“Further, we covered the cost of participation in local wellness events, such as the Chick-fil-A Fall Stampede benefitting the Children’s Cancer Center, where more than 130 Greenway employees were active participants,” he noted.

"Some of the new initiatives include care packages for our new employees, a fully virtual intern program, continued flexible time-off for our salaried employees, added days off for our hourly employees, and pandemic-premium pay for those on the front lines."

Fran Lawler, athenahealth

The company facilitated insights and sensitivity-related training with its “People Leaders,” educating them on different communication traits, needs and styles, how to better understand and identify team members who may be stressed, and how to coach them more effectively, he said.

“This included creating and maintaining a safe place for all staff regardless of any home interruptions, such as for individuals taking care of pets, or for working mothers and fathers,” he said.

Deploying task forces

After the NextGen Healthcare team started working from home, the vendor quickly deployed several task forces, including “Virtual Productivity” and “Health and Safety.”

“These task forces ensure we’re providing important resources that employees need to navigate their new work environment and address their various challenges, such as personal issues, work-life balance or training required for different tools for remote access,” Greene explained. “It was a lot to do in a little time, but we quickly mobilized and set up the appropriate channels and groups to increase communication and provide quick access across the organization.”

NextGen also has found it has been very important to often provide a variety of engagement opportunities, she added.

“We increased the cadence of our rewards and recreation program to help our team feel engaged and connected to each other,” she said. “We surveyed our employees early and often, and plan to continue to do so.”

COVID Task Force, EAP

Frequent communication with employees has been especially important – and a task force has helped, said Buracchio of Allscripts.

“Very early on in the pandemic, we launched an internal, cross-functional COVID-19 Task Force that meets regularly to discuss, among many pressing items, how we can keep a steady stream of information flowing between the company’s leadership and our people,” she said. “We believe that keeping our people informed of our actions helps everyone feel more connected and decreases uncertainty during this challenging time.”

Allscripts also provides resources to help employees cope with current stresses.

“The company’s robust Employee Assistance Program, telehealth services and wellbeing program offer resources such as articles, self-care tools, caring providers, and other mental health and substance use disorder information,” she noted. “We also recognize our associates may be faced with heightened anxiety due to unexpected financial pressures. We’ve enhanced our focus on financial and retirement planning and increased our associates’ access to virtual offerings.”

In addition, the company has launched a new group specifically for working parents on its private and secure social collaboration network, where employees can share their experiences and any advice they have that can benefit others as they all navigate the demands of the fall school season.

Creating new traditions

Swanfeldt of Meditech advises peers to start new traditions, such as virtual luncheons, trivia games or some other activity to replace what would be a “water cooler” connection in the office.

“We launched a Virtual Water Cooler series where anyone is invited to host and/or attend a topic-specific virtual gathering,” she said.

“The theme could be a work-related topic, such as tips on working from home with young children to non-workplace topics like gardening, board games or art,” she continued. “The goal is to foster cohesiveness among groups and encourage staff to connect with colleagues who share similar interests – and whose paths may not have otherwise crossed during this socially distant time.”

Transparency, mental health

Lawler of athenahealth noted that the country is in a time of tremendous uncertainty regarding racial, political and health issues, and as a mission-driven health organization, athenahealth’s leadership has strived to be consistent and stable for their employees.

“Athenahealth has been able to double down on its goals and, most important, we’ve been extremely transparent with our performance and with communication,” she said. “We’ve had the ability to positively impact how our team thinks and operates and provide stability for our employees with consistent communication to minimize anxiety in times of uncertainty.”

"Some people use their PTO time to take Fridays off to avoid burnout, others like to block out a future vacation where they have something to look forward to."

Daniel Kivatinos, DrChrono

Like with everyone else in the world, there has been much stress added to the day-to-day life of athenahealth employees, she added.

“To help our employees with potential burnout, we dedicated the month of May, along with September 7 through October 10, to mental health, by providing our employees with education, support and resources to add to their personal tool kits,” Lawler reported. “Now more than ever, we recognize that taking care of our mental wellbeing is of critical importance. As a healthcare company, athenahealth cares deeply about our employees and wants everyone to feel their best.”

Remaining challenges for EHR vendors

While these seven EHR vendors have been deploying tools, resources and task forces to ensure the good health and wellbeing of their employees, the pandemic continues to apply pressure, and challenges remain.

“An inherent challenge of remote work is the loss of face-to-face connection with peers and the water cooler chat that may happen during a normal day in the office,” said Karp of Cerner. “The company has relied on Microsoft 365 technology to remain connected during this virtual working environment. Through Microsoft Teams we regularly conduct meetings, encouraging all who feel comfortable to turn their cameras on, so their team members can see who is speaking and not just see a picture.”

Some teams throughout the company have used this platform to host virtual team happy hours, birthday celebrations, baby showers and other events.

“We all are finding ways to navigate this new normal and finding small moments to celebrate the wins, both work-related and personal, help us stay connected and get through this together,” she said. “Microsoft Teams even provided us with a platform to host virtual fitness classes and other wellness activities.”

Another aspect of working in a different environment has been a shift in the normal 9 to 5 workday, she added.

“For some associates, it’s easier to wake up early to complete a few hours of work before the kids wake up, or get online after hours to finish things up once the kids are sleeping,” she noted. “Other associates might find it easier to extend their work hours to allow for more breaks during the day. Our leadership teams have been very flexible in understanding that work looks different when you’re at home, and that’s okay.”

Taking time off and team engagement

A big challenge EHR vendors will continue to face is reminding employees of the importance of taking time off, said Greene of NextGen Healthcare.

“It is imperative now more than ever to take time away from work for mental wellness – even if employees can’t travel anywhere due to restrictions,” she said. “As a result of the pandemic, many people have delayed their travel plans, so they are not taking vacation time. We’ve encouraged staff to take time off for a mental break to reset and recharge and will continue to promote mental health and wellness.”

Another challenge is keeping the team engaged and finding new ways to communicate with them, she added.

“We’ve been adaptable and flexible throughout this pandemic, which has resonated very well with our employee base,” she said. “These are unprecedented times, and it calls for more sensitivity and understanding, since every employee has a different situation. I have heard that several of our teams hold weekly virtual happy hours, or do a meeting outside for fresh air, coffee, or lunch breaks to have some catch up time with one another.”

The company has had team meetings where people introduce their kids, spouses or pets. It’s nice to lighten things up while everyone goes through this together, Greene said.

Did not know what to expect

Swanfeldt of Meditech noted that the company is not a 9-to-5 firm because it supports healthcare providers 24/7.

“To be honest, during those first few days in mid- to late March, when everyone was initially sent home, we didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “Our corporate technology teams wondered aloud if we had the capacity to handle all staff working at home. Were our Internet VPN and proxy resources sized to accommodate everyone’s data needs? Could we seamlessly manage inbound and outbound calling with a remote workforce?”

The company prepared for the worst and hoped for the best.

“Fast-forward several months later and, thankfully, all has worked well with no disruption to customer service or business operations,” she reported. “We attribute our success to our cloud migration over the past few years, as well as shoring up our network and security infrastructure and having strong business continuance plans.”

Helping mental health remotely

One of the biggest challenges for athenahealth has been helping employees care for their mental health in a remote environment, Lawler said.

“We originally celebrated mental health awareness in May and added a second focus from September to October to amplify support for our employees,” she said. “Mental health continues to be at the forefront of our company and is something we take seriously as we continue to create space for discussion around the organization.”

The vendor wants to be leading in mental health resources for its employees and continue to break down the stigma around mental health, she added.

“We also have created a community forum and are hosting a fireside chat for athenahealth employees to discuss anything on their minds, and have a clinical psychologist available to provide real-time insight, education and broad support,” she explained. “We’ve invested in Wellness Coach, which is a mindfulness app that includes on-demand workouts, meditations, and sleep stories for employees and their families.”

The organization also has taken employees that want to grow and have done multiple LinkedIn learning and development sessions.

“We’ve had strong relationships with employee resource groups and created support for our employees by curating lists of nannies, teachers and caregivers in their locations to provide ongoing support throughout the pandemic,” Lawler noted.

Lattice, Zoom and Loom

Kivatinos of DrChrono listed some tools that his company has been using to help employees avoid burnout.

“One tool that we use to keep a pulse on how we are doing and if burnout is becoming an issue is a software tool called Lattice,” he explained. “We send out surveys to our team to see how they are coping. When we see a yellow or red flag, we try our best to help. For example, if a team talks me through a stressful situation, perhaps more resources can help.”

Other times team members feel isolated, so the company is finding ways, like using breakout rooms in Zoom, to help alleviate some of that isolation, where team members can talk in a small setting with several other team members from the company.

“I like to use software like Loom to give quick updates to the team. Since it is a stressful time for us all, as a leader I try to really focus on the positive and look at what is working, and ask the team to focus more on that,” he concluded. “It tends to motivate a team or person, and helps them focus on what is working.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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