Burnout is a serious problem facing health care workers, and it can have a devastating impact on patient care. A recent study from the American Medical Association and its university partners shows that more than half of physicians in the United States report feeling burned out. This is concerning because burnout can lead to lower quality of care, higher rates of medical errors, and even higher rates of physician suicide.

Promising new research from Ohio State may be a step in the right direction. A pilot program called Mindfulness in Motion (MIM) has been developed, which involves the use of a mental health treatment called biofeedback. Initial research on MIM showed that individuals who took part in the program experienced higher levels of resilience and significantly less symptoms of burnout. 

Biofeedback is an evidence-based method that can help people with a range of physical and mental health concerns manage the effect that chronic stress has on their condition. It has also proven effective in maintaining health and well-being in individuals who lack any diagnosable health concerns.

MIM works with wearable sensors that a provider puts on at the start of their day. These serve to monitor vital signs (such as pulse and breathing rate) for indications of stress. Any vitals that are above a certain threshold will trigger the app-based program to send prompts that guide providers in increasing body awareness and regulating their breathing, heart rate, and more. 

Biofeedback interventions like MIM can help health care workers learn to recognize and respond to signs of stress. By becoming more aware of their own bodies, health care workers can reduce the physical and mental strain associated with burnout. Biofeedback can also help health care workers become better able to recognize the signs of burnout in their colleagues, allowing them to intervene before the problem becomes too severe. 

For health care workers who are already feeling the effects of burnout, biofeedback can help them manage their symptoms and develop healthy coping strategies. Studies have shown that biofeedback can reduce feelings of stress, improve concentration, and reduce fatigue. Biofeedback can also help health care workers maintain a healthy lifestyle by encouraging them to stay active, get enough sleep, and maintain a balanced diet. 

By reducing the stress and fatigue associated with burnout, biofeedback can help health care workers stay alert and focused while caring for patients. Additionally, studies have shown that biofeedback can enhance the accuracy and efficiency of medical decision-making, leading to better patient outcomes.

Access to biofeedback can be limited, but even onboarding a few providers within an organization can be enough to spur positive change. Organizations should look into similar ways to invest in their provider networks since they will reap the benefits with higher employee retention and improved patient care.