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Is Email Fatigue Infecting Hospitals?

Email Fatigue

Email fatigue is a hugely pervasive problem in society today, and hospitals are no exception. While we’re quite aware when we spend too much time looking at cat videos on YouTube or posting an account of our surfing trip to Facebook, it’s easy to forget that keeping up with email can undermine workers. Left unchecked, email fatigue can have a negative impact on medical staff customer service, which can make or break how physicians see your facility.

The constant flow of email can overwhelm even the most poised of hospital staffers. According to research by consulting firm McKinsey & Co, the average worker spends almost one-third of their workweek reading and answering email or about 650 hours per year.

That’s hardly surprising, though, given just how much business email gets processed. According to Palo Alto, CA-based technology research firm The Radicati Group, more than 108.7 billion emails were received and sent worldwide by business users in 2014, which comes out to about 14 emails per human being on earth. Worse, that number should climb to 139.4 billion by the year 2018, the firm predicts.

In case this doesn’t sound like a big deal, consider the following.

For one thing, email can be very distracting. One study by the Danwood Group found that it takes 64 seconds for workers to resume whatever they were doing and get back up to the speed they were at before they were interrupted, even if the message was trivial. That may be in part due to visual distraction, as workers with email access switch windows 37 times per hour. With most employees sending and receiving north of a hundred email messages a day, imagine the productivity drain that creates!

Not only that, email fatigue can be upsetting and stressful for workers. One team of researchers from UC Irvine and the U.S. Army found that when email access was limited, heart rates fell dramatically for program participants with limited email access. Another study concluded that “telepressure” – staffers’ sense that they must respond promptly to all electronic messages – can lead to physical and mental burnout, lower sleep quality and a higher number of health-related work absences.

Then there’s the limitations of the email itself. While it can be useful to send and receive key business information like phone numbers and schedules via e-mail, it’s not always easy to retrieve that information efficiently once a few days or weeks have gone by. Chasing buried email messages can have a negative impact on medical staff customer service efforts.

Yes, it’s possible to filter incoming email, but if doctors write from a different email account, their message may not be sorted effectively. Then, if medical staff scheduling pros are trying to find, say, a current phone number, they may miss a vital update. If you want to follow physician scheduling best practices – and be sure that patients’ need for on-call professionals is met – email clearly isn’t the most efficient way to go.

A Better Alternative

Email is a particularly questionable choice for medical staff customer service support teams, for whom finding up-to-date contact information and schedules can be critical. A hospital’s medical staffing services department is highly dependent on tracking information on medical staff and board members, including on-call schedules and medical staff services data.

Managing this information via email can lead to many undesirable consequences for hospitals. For example, if a nurse relies on emailed information to track down a specialist and bring them to the ED, she or he might be working from old information. Several phone calls later – possibly to the wrong specialist, who is upset at being disturbed – the patient still hasn’t gotten their consult. The results can lead to serious medical, financial and even regulatory consequences if problems with specialist communication lead to quality of care problems. No hospital can afford to let these issues slide anymore. Physician scheduling best practices are important to their survival.

Hospitals have better options than email, however. MDSyncNET’s On-Call Scheduling module provides accurate, up-to-date schedule information for on-call practitioners, allowing nurses to reach the right specialist the first time they try. Our Medical Staff Services module allows medical staff administrators to post information on medical staff issues online, making it freely available to providers who can download and read it at their convenience. And our Committees module allows authorized users to retrieve the schedule, agenda, resources and announcements at their convenience.

Email fatigue isn’t just bad for employees; it’s bad for the hospital as a whole. Overwhelming floods of email can lead to unacceptable and needless levels of inefficiency that inconvenience doctors, undercut care quality and even endanger a facility’s capacity for regulatory compliance. Now is the time to simplify and centralize the information medical staff customer service professionals need to support doctors.

With over 14 years of experience, continues to grow because our product is unmatched in the marketplace. We provide hospital administrators nationwide with modules that help them increase their facility’s efficiency and accuracy of communications, while decreasing duplication of efforts, saving money and resources. Our trusted, secure online system is part of the revolutionary change that you need in your hospital today.

Find out how hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the country are making critical improvements seamlessly. We invite you to learn more about MDsyncNET at, or give us a call at 1-888-506-5061 to learn how our system can be customized to meet your needs.

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