New App May Help Clinicians Reduce Stress, Avoid Burnout

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Workplace stress is a common problem for an overwhelming number of Americans these days. But in the healthcare sector, where workers must often work long, thankless hours, clinician burnout is leading to massive turnover all across the country. Now, a new app may be able to offer clinicians the tools to reduce their stress levels in a way that allows them to remain in the industry, and thus help patients for a longer period of time.

According to projections by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. could be short 90,000 physicians by 2025. Although these shortages can be attributed to many factors, burnout is chief among them. In fact, a recent National Academy of Sciences paper revealed that nearly half of all U.S. physicians and 35% of hospital nurses experience symptoms of burnout.

In the healthcare field, those symptoms come with major consequences. High turnover is always a concern, of course, as 57% of all organizations view retention as a problem. But there are even more risks for medical workers with high stress levels. In addition to medical professionals choosing to cut back their hours or leave the industry altogether, studies have found that burnout increases the likelihood of medical errors. While 44% to 65% of all ER episodes can be treated at urgent care, it’s vital for medical staff — life-threatening emergency or not — be at their best and be in a position to make sound judgment calls. One survey discovered that 50% of nurses have considered leaving their jobs mainly due to feeling over-worked, while another study found that emotional exhaustion among physicians was tied to a 43% higher likelihood of work hour reduction.

But one company thinks they might have a solution. Life Cross Training, also known as Life XT, has created digital tools — accessed through their mobile app — that can provide better training to clinicians pertaining to the handling of stress. After completing a questionnaire about their stress level and causes of stress, users receive online courses that can help them meditate and find ways to reduce stress and anxiety in their professional and personal lives. These short courses are meant to become habitual; over the course of a month, a given user will probably spend only 30 minutes using the app. Each program runs for four months, and a certified Life XT coach will connect with users via video chat every month to check in and see how they’re improving.

Mike Anderes, Life XT’s chief innovation and digital officer, explained to Modern Healthcare that the app can be used any time, anywhere.

“We wanted something scientifically based that could be used by people at their own time and meet them where they are,” said Anderes said. “People can use it throughout the day and hardwire some of the behaviors that will develop into better resiliency.”

Preliminary data has shown that clinicians seem to like the Life XT program, with 90% of clinicians who began using it back in November continuing to utilize the app. But it’s certainly not the only way to combat burnout, nor is it the only app available that’s dedicated to stress reduction or healing. One app called is dedicated to the benefits of music therapy, a practice that has been shown to reduce stress and promote overall well-being. And Samsung recently partnered with the University of California, San Francisco to launch an app to help smartphone users monitor their stress levels and gain personalized information to help improve their own health.

While smartphone and social media usage has often been associated with increased stress levels, it’s possible that this technology also holds the key to reducing it. While many of these tools are in their early stages, future innovation may be able to help all of us avoid burnout and prioritize our mental and emotional health. Until then, you can always put your phone down — for just a little bit, anyway.

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