Insights - Article

Pharmacist Burnout: Telepharmacy – A New Hope?

Pharmacist burnout is a major problem across healthcare organizations. It not only negatively affects pharmacists themselves but can also significantly impact hospital operations.

What is pharmacist burnout?

Burnout is defined as, “a condition of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive or prolonged stress on the job”. Pharmacists can feel the impacts of burnout particularly hard as they are under immense amounts of stress double-checking medication orders and ensuring patient safety.

pharmacist burnout - definition

Pharmacist burnout typically results from:

  • Prolonged stress
  • Work-life imbalance
  • Dysfunctional work environments
  • Unfairness in the workplace

One of the biggest contributors of pharmacist burnout comes from “overloading the most capable.”

In the wrong work environment, pharmacists can feel underappreciated with little or no control over their work. They are forced to manage multiple responsibilities including medication distribution, clinical duties, and fielding phone calls. Being forced to constantly go from task to task without breaks can result in depersonalization and apathy. This kind of fast-paced environment can take its toll on anyone, but it’s especially harmful within hospitals or healthcare organizations

When so many workflow factors seem random or are out of the pharmacist’s control, the pharmacy environment becomes increasingly chaotic. This is exactly what happens at many clinical pharmacies during:

  • Unusual or emergency surges
  • Callouts, vacation, or personal leave
  • Regular peak hours

These “rush-hours” become all the more problematic when pharmacists are being held accountable for both rapid and consistent medication review turnaround times and managing clinical programs like medical reconciliation and antimicrobial stewardship.

Pharmacist burnout can negatively impact patient care and safety.

The Consequences of Pharmacist Burnout

There can be major consequences for hospitals as a result of pharmacist burnout. Patient safety can be negatively affected if caregivers have mentally checked out. Impaired attention and memory can decrease recall and attention to detail, all of which contribute to a lower quality of patient care and an increased liability for hospitals.

Burnout Contagion

Pharmacist burnout doesn’t just impact pharmacists and the patients they treat; it also contributes to burnout contagion. Apathetic pharmacists are less productive and the resulting slow medication order turnaround times can stress out the nurses who must deal with the consequences.

Nurse burnout directly results in:

  • Negative patient experiences
  • An increase in nurse turnover
  • Furthering the cycle of burnout contagion amongst other clinical staff members

Employee Turnover

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Employee burnout is a common phenomenon, but it is one that companies tend to treat as a talent management or a personal issue rather than a broader organizational challenge.”

In order to decrease pharmacist burnout and employee turnover, hospitals must address the systemic factors that result in stress, repetitiveness, and lower job satisfaction for the entire department.

Organizations must address the systemic factors that contribute to pharmacist burnout.

Decrease Pharmacist Burnout and Improve Workflows

One of the many ways organizations can address pharmacist burnout is by improving workflow processes and enhancing communication between pharmacists and other healthcare staff. Optimizing workflows allow your pharmacists to maintain consistent medication order turnaround times, helping support other healthcare staff, and improving overall patient care.

The Telepharmacy Solution

Telepharmacy can lower pharmacy burnout by providing a way both to virtually “pool” internal resources across multiple facilities to smooth out peaks and valleys of workload and by providing an on-demand outsourcing option to cost-effectively supplement your existing workforce.

This load balancing and/or supplementing of your pharmacy staff results in shorter and more consistent turnaround times. This, in turn, improves nursing satisfaction, patient safety, and hospital ratings.

By optimizing workflow, less time is spent reviewing medication orders which frees up more pharmacist time to pursue strategic clinical programs like medical reconciliation and antimicrobial stewardship.

PipelineRx: Comprehensive Telepharmacy Services and Software

PipelineRx provides the flexible options organizations need to improve pharmacy operations by optimizing internal resources and/or supplementing operations with remote pharmacists. We offer:

  • Telepharmacy software: manage and optimize medication order workflow within a single hospital or across a multi-facility system for streamlined operations and a significant ROI.
  • Remote telepharmacy services: utilize a team of clinical pharmacists to extend or supplement coverage at a fraction of the cost of hiring or per diem staff.
  • Clinical Services: meet CMS and other mandates while also maintaining your organization’s clinical and financial objectives.

Interested in our services or software? Contact us for pricing and additional information.

Are you a pharmacist struggling with burnout?

Pharmacist burnout is a serious issue, and for many simply taking a vacation isn’t enough. If you are looking for a new environment that allows you to continue working in the field you love, you should join our team!

Our remote pharmacists enjoy the benefits of:

  • Exciting and challenging work
  • Using the latest in telepharmacy technology
  • Non-traditional work setting, such as your own HIPAA-compliant home office
  • Competitive pay and benefits

Interested in joining our remote pharmacist team? Check out the careers page for more information and available positions.