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Meeting trends with technology: A nurse’s guide

December 21, 2016

By Danielle Miller, PHD(c), MSN, RNC-OB Chief Nursing Officer, Clinical Applications

When I was a practicing OB nurse, one of my nightmare work scenarios was showing up for an evening shift with no nursing leadership. We never knew what our nursing skill mix would be – maybe we’d have six nurses, each with less than two years of experience, working in a very busy, Level 3 facility. Or maybe there would be one nurse with decades of experience, working with five, less experienced care colleagues. You just never knew.

Today, however, the technology exists to remove those unknowns so we can work better, together, using intelligent data to predict what we need to provide optimum care. And with nurses making up 70 percent of the healthcare workforce, we have the numbers and power to be key drivers of any such technology and how it’s used.

We first need to remain keenly aware of the outside forces and pressures on healthcare employers, which I covered in a recent webinar: Nursing Trends and Patient Care.

An aging population. We are doing great things in caring for people, and that means people are living longer, and hospitals are seeing a rise in chronic conditions while nurses are faced with more complex caseloads. A traditional hours per patient day (HPPD) methodology is no longer enough to meet evolving needs along the care continuum. What is needed is a system that meshes patient need with staff skill levels, integrated with other systems—like the lab. The right system gives us all of that information, at our fingertips, and can reduce a nurse’s manual tasks by hundreds of hours per year. And that means we can get back to the bedside.

Value-based reimbursements. Quality care and a better patient experience mean better patient ratings and higher reimbursement. The move toward quality-based payments necessitates innovative technology to support patient safety and outcomes—every day and in every way. That can range from technology that matches nurse skill level to patient acuity. For example, two patients with pneumonia may require very different types and lengths of care if one patient also has dementia. Knowing that is going in allows you to allot the nurse with the right time and experience to the patient. Another example is patient discharge, which takes up a big chunk of nursing time and can lead to patient dissatisfaction and low ratings. This is a competitive risk in light of growing healthcare consumerism where potential patients are turning to the internet for care reviews.

A changing workforce. Millennials surveyed will spend two to three years at their organization. They are also looking for the best work experience possible—not just a job. Balanced workloads, the opportunity to learn, and providing care at the bedside are key employment engagement factors. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about an addition to the Triple Aim, a “Fourth Aim” about care provider satisfaction. In short, this Fourth Aim means a happy caregiver who, in turn, helps create happy patients. Once again, I thought back to my experience working with nurses, some of whom were new and filled with zeal and excitement and some with 20-plus years of solid wisdom and experience. They all had different certifications and brought different things to the care process.

At the time, putting together the right schedule, with the right nurses, could take weeks. What’s more, the nurses didn’t have access to technology that allowed them to make their own scheduling choices. Today’s care staff wants and needs technology that meets them where they are, and that means mobile access.

In today’s changing healthcare industry, nurses need to look at technology as not just another thing to do, but rather something that can help streamline their jobs, lead to better patient care and boost job satisfaction. This is at the center of Infor Workforce Management and I’m anxious to hear from my fellow nurses about whether—and how—you feel empowered to adopt the right technologies at your organization.
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