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An affordable, sustainable solution to the inescapable nurse shortage

October 02, 2023
Business Affairs

Shift work
About half of common nursing patient care responsibilities – including medication reconciliation, patient and family teaching, consultation coordination, care plan creation and more -- can be performed away from the bedside. An offsite team member can complete those tasks, collaborating with the bedside team and interacting with patients. According to our analysis, the combined responsibilities performed offsite can free up approximately 6.5 FTEs of nursing time. For an average hospital, that can mean six additional beds staffed, increasing revenue approximately 2.6 percent.

Frances Dare
Intelligent machines can also pick up work. Nurses spend an inordinate amount of time searching for equipment and supplies across the hospital. Studies have shown this can add up to as much as 60 minutes per shift. It’s also been estimated that nurses typically walk between four and five miles each shift including delivering items to other departments. That work can shift to technologies. Intelligent robots can deliver samples to the hospital lab while smart tracking tags on infusion pumps, wheelchairs and other equipment means they can be located with keystrokes.

Share work
Other nursing responsibilities can be shared. The bedside nurse and offsite nurse both perform part of the task. Examples include admission assessments, nurse call system response, code support and patient discharge management. Enabling technologies include shared access to the EHR, secure communication and messaging systems, and high-quality video solutions. Increased use of remote monitoring technologies with trend and alert reporting can expand the support offsite nurses can provide to the bedside. Offsite nurses can cover many more beds than onsite nurses, a cost advantage with one-to-many scale.

The one-to-many care model isn’t new to healthcare. Tele-ICU is a well-proven model where intensive care nurses and physicians support hospital ICUs from a distance with both patient monitoring and clinical support to beside teams. Offsite nurses have more time to observe patients and proactively manage care plans. The onsite and offsite nurses all act as a single, coordinated team, and the bedside nurse remains the team leader.

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