The COVID-19 pandemic has put more stress on physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists than ever before. From the need to reconfigure treatment gyms to accommodate social distancing requirements to the mandatory screening of staff and visitors, several new practices are increasing the demand on staff time while pulling therapists away from their routine duties.
A recent survey conducted by Mental Health America sought to quantify the effect these shifts, plus staffing limitations, are having on the therapist workforce.
Of more than 1,100 healthcare workers:
- 93% reported stress
- 86% reported anxiety
- 77% reported frustration
- 75% reported feeling overwhelmed¹
It’s important to recognize the effects that pandemic restrictions, staffing challenges, and long hours have had on rehab therapists across the nation—and determine what to do about it.
The Effects of the Pandemic on Rehab Therapists
With thousands of speech, occupational, and physical therapists reassigned to various wings of a rehab facility throughout the pandemic, the pressure has been on short-staffed teams to ramp up activity while still maintaining their daily duties. Over the past three months, 82% of healthcare workers have reported feeling emotionally exhausted and 68% have experienced physical exhaustion.² Of the top three work-related stressors, a massive 54% of therapists reported experiencing burnout, and 49% listed a heavy or increased workload to blame.³
The negative effects of staffing challenges aren’t solely affecting rehab therapists: One in three healthcare workers also feel they’ve been making more mistakes at work lately, a statistic that can impact patients nationwide.⁴
The Importance of Teamwork and Empathy, Now More Than Ever
With the above statistics in mind, it’s clear that the ramifications of COVID-19 have affected physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists on a monumental scale. Not only are social distancing guidelines and increased staffing challenges affecting day-to-day operations, but they’re also impacting therapists on a personal level.
It’s crucial to bear in mind that most therapists have loved ones at home. Some have small children or aging parents, and fear for their health in the time that they’re at work. Some therapists are alone and are afraid of what will happen to them—and their patients—if they were to fall ill.
In the rehab landscape, COVID affects far more than work operations. Now more than ever, it’s paramount to treat all therapists across the board with empathy, acknowledge their hard work, and encourage teamwork. With resources limited, tap into electronic health record (EHR) software to encourage methods of teamwork and camaraderie.
- Designate Team Huddles: Utilize telehealth platforms through the EHR to schedule virtual coffee meetings or shared lunches for therapists to alleviate lingering isolation
- Cut Back on Repetitive Tasks: Harness the EHR for administrative tasks such as transcription, chart pulls, storage, and more, to help reduce therapist workload
- Limit Tech-Induced Stress: Implement filters in the EHR system to allow therapists to quickly locate a patient’s most relevant medical, health, and social history, to reduce case-by-case stress
- Reduce Busywork: Track electronic messages, order and receive diagnostic images and lab tests, and communicate with other healthcare providers all through one, streamlined platform
Balance COVID-Induced Stress with an EHR that Cares
Net Health® Therapy for Hospital Outpatient and Net Health® Therapy for Private Practice (formerly ReDoc®) are cloud-based, fully-integrated specialized EHR solutions designed with real-life teams in mind. Complete with clinical workflow, practice management, outcomes benchmarking, a telehealth portal and expert coaching, rehab therapists can seamlessly integrate everything needed to streamline their operations and reduce daily stress.
Give back to the physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy teams that have been managing it all with an EHR solution equipped to handle it all. Schedule your demo today.
How Patient Engagement Drives Your Rehab Therapy Business
Highly engaged patients are at the heart of successful rehab facilities.
¹, ², ³ Mental Health America, “The Mental Health of Healthcare Workers in COVID-19,” January 2020.
⁴ Business Wire, “Healthcare Worker Survey Shows They Are Burned Out, Sleep-Deprived, & May Quit,” December 8, 2020.