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An affordable, sustainable solution to the inescapable nurse shortage

October 02, 2023
Business Affairs

In addition to patient care support, experienced nurses based offsite can mentor and coach less experienced nurses during patient assessments, new procedures or clinical decision making. That guidance could reduce stress and improve patient outcomes. In our research with nurses, development and mentoring was cited as one of the three top contributors to job satisfaction.

Streamline patient management
Digital communications can help streamline how nurses and team members locate and connect with each other. Nurses report spending approximately two hours each shift searching for other team members to coordinate and manage patient care. Research indicates that the time spent by nurses on in-hospital patient transfers in a single month is the equivalent of 11 FTEs. Transfers often take longer than necessary due to communication delays.

The right technologies can make communication and collaboration easier and more efficient. Communication devices small enough to fit in a lab coat but with easy-to-read screens can meet nurses’ needs for team member location and status information. The devices can support flexibility across secure message, voice or video channels. Imagine if even five FTEs could be freed-up for other patient care responsibilities.

The next steps toward connected, collaborative nursing
Initially, more responsibilities can be shifted and shared with other humans, based off-site. Over time, more work can be shifted to technology as clinicians become more comfortable with the care model and as technologies evolve. For example, today ambient clinical artificial intelligence (AI) can listen to conversations between clinicians and patients, and create draft clinical notes, care plans or discharge plans. . Humans—including medical scribes or nurses--quality check and correct the drafts. Over time, AI will become smart enough to reduce the needed human review. Similarly, “virtual humans” — life-like, conversational, computer-generated characters — can help with patient teaching, call light responses, discharge management and more.

Transforming nursing practice to become connected and collaborative requires joint leadership from nursing, operations, and technology executives. Engage nurse team members with human-centered design approaches to define new models and prioritize which nursing responsibilities should be shifted and shared near- and longer-term. Create an information architecture and illustrate clinical workflows to identify technology requirements for the hybrid working model. These steps will best position the organization to identify existing technologies that can enable the transition and which technology investments will be needed for the future.

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