New biofeedback-driven health support app could alleviate burnout

The new Mindfulness in Motion exercise prompting system being researched at Ohio State uses biofeedback to trigger program prompts to smartphones – enabling wearers to engage in mind-body interventions that have proven to reduce healthcare workforce burnout.


The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) awarded the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Wexner Medical Center a $1.48 million grant for workforce safety innovations supporting several frontline industries, including healthcare. 

In part, the state grant funds The Buckeye Pause Bundle: Augmenting State of Mind and Body as the Ultimate PPE, a study led by co-principal investigators and Ohio State researchers Catherine Quatman-Yates, associate professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and Department of Orthopaedics, and Maryanna Klatt, director of integrative medicine and professor of family and community medicine, who developed MIM. 

Klatt developed and validated the MIM intervention program’s resiliency tools to enhance wellbeing and functionality while mitigating the effects of chronic stress. 

Since 2004, she has worked with healthcare professionals, cancer patients, primary caregivers and students, but during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MIM was embedded across Wexner Medical Center. 

The study, published in the Global Advances in Health and Medicine journal in December 2020, concluded that the program significantly reduced burnout and increased resilience for a large healthcare system workforce navigating the novel challenges presented by a pandemic. 

Once users reach a given threshold of physiological readings from wearable biofeedback devices, they receive personalized prompts from their smartphones that encourage them to pause and engage in mind-body protective exercises.

“It includes the development of stand-alone, soundproof mind-body exercise respite pods to provide support while in high-stress, busy work settings,” said Klatt in the announcement.

Wexner Medical Center researchers will further the development of the university-designed health support platform to help reduce the state’s occurrence of work-related injuries. 

“The WSIC grant leverages a methodology that drives deliberate maturation of concepts from ideation to prototype. BWC believes in investing in innovators/researchers, through the collaboration with industry partners, to transform ideas into viable technical and commercial workforce solutions,” said Sandi Golden-Vest, MEP, chief of BWC’s Workforce Safety Innovation Center.


Other researchers have also focused on reducing healthcare employee burnout with digital health tools.

During the onset of COVID-19, St. Luke’s University Health Network in Pennsylvania researched how cognitive behavioral therapy delivered over the internet – either through self-guided or coached interventions – could help healthcare workers. 

The study found that clinical acuity dropped with programs targeting depression and anxiety, and the program achieved a 97% satisfaction rate among the 3,000 employees and spouses that used it.

Deloitte, which released a report on the potential uses of wearable cognitive assistance, indicates the technology can improve human safety and wellbeing and enhance the quality of work.

While some envision WCA for use in delivering augmented intelligence to surgeons, any use in the short-term relies on 5G, as Healthcare IT News discussed in September with Apan Tiwari, managing director for Deloitte.

“Low-latency wireless plus edge for indoor use is ready for prime time now,” Tiwari said. 

The Department of Justice and its partner AT&T have developed the FirstNet 5G network, and hospitals are beginning to deploy private 5G networks for several use cases.


“The healthcare industry has learned a lot since the beginning of the pandemic about the need for methods to reduce work-related stress, anxiety and burnout, and we’re proud to offer innovative programs such as Mindfulness in Motion,” Dr. Andrew Thomas, interim co-leader and chief clinical officer for Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said in a statement.

“We have excellent healthcare providers, and these programs help ensure we’re caring for them in the same way they’re caring for our patients,” he said. “Supporting our team’s wellbeing helps them be their best and deliver excellent patient-centered care.”

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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