Nursing has long been a reputable profession, and when the country was propelled into ground zero of a global pandemic, nurses were among the frontline healthcare workers deemed heroes. Despite the strain on nurses being an issue pre-Covid, with a focus on the healthcare industry this past year, the public became painfully aware of the grave reality of what nurses endure on a daily basis. With the surge of cases coming in from Covid-19 adding to the already existing roster of patients, care teams reached maximum capacity and resource constraint on all levels, with a significant portion of the burden falling on nurses.
It is no surprise that nursing is stressful even at the best of times. A study published in Health Policy found that of the more than 3.9 million nurses who reported quitting their jobs in 2018, 31.5% said it was due to burnout. Add a global health pandemic to the mix, and you have the recipe for a potentially chaotic downturn. Covid-19 launched nurses and physicians into unprecedented situations where they had to repeatedly flex and learn on the fly to keep up with rapidly evolving safety protocols. Suddenly, a typical day for a nurse became a constant sprint with no end in sight.
Additionally, the need for help in hospitals has prompted nurses to dust off their stethoscopes and come out of retirement. In fact, earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) amended the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to add additional categories of qualified persons authorized to prescribe, dispense, and administer Covid-19 vaccines. Although many retired nurses and physicians enlisted to help with the vaccination rollout, resources continued to be and are still stretched thin, and communication across existing teams and these additional resources is an ongoing challenge due to outdated and ineffective collaboration tools.
It’s clear that nurses continue to face an increased workload caring for increasingly complex medical patients, Covid-19 cases, vaccine distribution, as well as victims of everyday trauma. They are forced to balance their time between patients, their mental health and casework, making it crucial to invest in the resources nurses need to efficiently perform their duties to prevent burnout and improve patient care. Once hospitals and healthcare systems incorporate the right communication and collaboration technology into daily protocols, they can expect to see an extensive list of improvements, including the ones detailed below.
Streamlined Workflows and a Single Collaboration Platform
New developments in communication and collaboration technology allow hospitals to equip their nurses and interdisciplinary care teams with the tools to enhance care delivery workflows. How can a technology platform help nurses? By taking all the noise and routing it, therein reducing toil and supplying nurses with more time to focus on providing quality and safe patient care without being inundated with a web of convoluted administrative duties and unvaluable, added lag time. The solution manages patient status changes, patient discharge and transfer protocols, logistical improvements for procedures, and engages families in care. Effective collaboration platforms take all the noise distracting nurses and puts it in one centralized, controllable place. In short, being hyper-diligent in making it easier to communicate and coordinate care helps reduce burnout among nurses.
Along with a more streamlined process for completing care team workflows, hospitals can implement a patient engagement platform that creates better interoperability among patients, caregivers and families. In an industry that has long been reliant on antiquated tools like pagers, voicemail and nerve-racking alarms, new technology provides a one-stop-shop for communication between nurses, providers, support staff, patients and their families.
Improved Patient Care
The adage that ‘to take care of others, you have to take care of yourself first’ fits like a Nitrile glove in nursing’s current situation. An inevitable result of nurse burnout is lower-quality medical care. Having a secure collaboration platform with features that connect the entirety of the healthcare ecosystem, gives nurses time to breathe and refocus while ensuring that their patients are receiving quality care. One such feature is smart bed integration, which includes real-time bed status monitoring, fall prevention through instant alerts to the right person, and centralization of bed management data. This type of technology enables staff to operate at top of licensure and makes a nurse’s shift more efficient by removing potentially redundant tasks while still monitoring their patient in real-time.
Ultimately, why is this important? Collaboration and communication solutions are in place to make sure nurses are taken care of. This is something that is not simply a kindness – it is imperative. The reality is that no one can afford to lose nurses due to burnout… not hospitals, communities, nor patients. The healthcare ecosystem cannot exist without nurses, so it is time to invest in the enhanced technologies available to hospitals to alleviate burnout among healthcare’s most critical team members.
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