Today’s nursing shortage: How tech can help
The staffing crisis
Hospitals that were running on lean models of staffing are now facing new challenges as nurses, already stressed from the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, are leaving the profession. So, how can administrators improve staff satisfaction and retention?
Short term solutions
According to the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, the United States is in the midst of a critical nursing shortage that is expected to last through 2030. Becker’s Hospital Review states that some strategies being used to retain nursing staff are bolstering wages, offering hiring bonuses, and increasing benefits, but experts say this level of spending is not sustainable over the long term. Hospitals’ labor expense per adjusted discharge rose 15.1% year to date from 2019, according to Kaufman Hall. The increased expenditures did help stabilize staffing.
How telemedicine extends expertise
An article in Modern Healthcare says “As nursing shortages drag on, it’s not just about recruiting new talent. Health systems are increasingly forced to do what they can with the staff they have available.”
Modern Healthcare describes the role of telemedicine in making the best use of limited nursing staff. “Telemedicine can take staffing flexibility further, providing a way to help health systems distribute their specialty workforce where they’re needed, regardless of location.”
For example, Emory University Hospital opened an eICU – essentially a control center staffed remotely by critical-care nurses and physicians. These clinicians monitor the status of patients staying in ICUs across the health system 24/7, alerting on-site staff in the event of an emergency.
The eICU also helps hospital units onboard and mentor new critical-care nurses, by allowing experienced, remote ICU nurses to consult with newer nurses on the floor. “We’re working to leverage the expertise of those (experienced) nurses,” said Nancye Feistritzer, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, noting that through the eICU they can be available to “coach and support nurses in real time.”
Adding value to remote nursing
Modern texting platforms like Diagnotes add value to the remote nursing model. For example, a leading academic hospital is using Diagnotes to coordinate remote patient admissions via video call.
The remote nurse team is responsible for admitting patients, reducing the burden on the floor nurses. Team coordination and communication take place in a Diagnotes virtual workspace. A scheduling app integrated with Diagnotes ensures that the on-call remote nurse is notified of new admission orders. Nurses can track when the video call has been placed, and when the admission has been completed.
Enhancing safety protocols
With reduced staffing, there may not be a pharmacist available after hours to compound medications for a hospital, leaving the nurses to do it themselves. To avoid medication errors, nurses at a regional health system are using Diagnotes video calls for remote consults with pharmacists after hours, when there is a need to compound medications. ER, CCU and Endo nursing staff can reach a pharmacist as required, who can observe in real time as the nurse compounds medications. This adds another layer of patient and medication safety for the hospital, as well as making more efficient use of limited staff.
Designed by actual clinicians, Diagnotes is a healthcare-specific messaging platform that helps manage the complexity and urgency of today’s clinical environment. In addition to providing secure communications and telehealth, we deliver a virtual workspace that brings together providers to collaborate across units and disciplines.
For health systems, Diagnotes replaces multiple point solutions with a single platform that elevates their efficiency, while increasing clinician and patient satisfaction.