GTRI, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory Use Wearable Sensors to Address Healthcare Worker Burnout

Healthcare worker burnout, a topic that received significant attention during COVID-19, continues to pose risks for the nation’s health and economic wellbeing.

In 2022, nearly half of healthcare workers reported feeling burned out, up from 32% in 2018, and the number of healthcare workers who intended to look for a new job increased by 33% over that same time period, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Annual burnout-related turnover costs are estimated to be $9 billion for nurses and $2.6 billion to $6.3 billion for physicians, per the U.S. Surgeon General.

To address this challenge,­ the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing have conducted a study using wearable sensors to better understand how the interplay of workload, stress, and sleep contribute­­ to an elevated risk of burnout among healthcare workers and how to mitigate those risks going forward.

The group recently measured real-time movement patterns of physicians and nurses in the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at Children’s and collected data on their stress levels, work and sleep cycles, healthcare delivery and perceived workloads. The goal of the study is to develop a methodology that can be used by other healthcare systems across the state to minimize turnover costs by better predicting and addressing factors that trigger burnout.

“Our ultimate goal with this project is to be able to offer our methodology framework to other healthcare systems throughout Georgia so that they can identify and address the specific challenges they are facing on a more granular level,” said Khatereh Hadi, a senior research scientist at GTRI who is leading this project.


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