The American Hospital Association has sounded the alarm over the hospital labor shortage, and software companies have the opportunity to respond with solutions.
Before the pandemic, hospitals were faced with the challenge of an aging workforce. In 2017, almost half of nurses were age 50 or older. Then, the pandemic’s impact was two-fold. It accelerated some retirement plans, but at the same time, nursing schools were unable to train qualified applicants due to faculty shortages and classroom and training site closures. The jobs report from January 2022 revealed that hospitals lost 33,000 jobs and residential care lost 146,000 jobs the previous year. Furthermore, the American Hospital Association points out that federal data predicts a loss of 500,000 nurses in 2022, primarily due to retirements, which would bring the nursing shortage in the U.S. to 1.1 million.
Preventing Critical Issues Related to the Nursing Shortage
Nurses are essential to providing the best patient care – and assigning nurses to the correct number of patients and responsibilities minimize errors and adverse patient outcomes. However, when there aren’t enough nurses to share the work, they can bear an often-overwhelming burden to provide the level of care that patients need throughout their shifts.
Fortunately, ISVs can develop solutions that can help ease that burden by streamlining processes and allowing nurses to focus on the most critical needs. One solution comprises MedTech solutions that monitor patients and send data visualizations to touchscreens outside patient rooms. Nurses can quickly view diagnostics from the hallway, checking on patients and prioritizing needs more quickly.
The advantages of this solution are that nurses don’t have to carry an extra device or load another app onto their already overloaded devices. The screen can also notify staff if the patient is heading to surgery, has allergies to latex or medication, or has hearing or other impairment, eliminating the time to post signs. Furthermore, if a nurse sees that a patient needs attention, they’re right outside the door, saving steps. The solution may save just a few minutes with each patient; however, when there are 50 patients on a unit, that time savings is significant.
Personalized Care During a Labor Shortage
With fewer nurses and hospital staff available, it may be challenging for hospitals to respond to patient requests quickly. ISVs also have the opportunity to create solutions that provide “self-service” capabilities to hospital services. With touchscreens in rooms, patients can request or access services and make payments with systems connected directly to the cafeteria or gift shop’s point of sale (POS) system. Then, in some cases, nursing robots can perform simple tasks or deliver items, further automating day-to-day tasks.
Those same touchscreens can connect patients with their healthcare plan providers, social workers, and hospital staff to manage finances and keep patients’ families informed during surgery or procedures or allow the patient to send information to family outside the hospital.
These touchscreen solutions allow hospitals to keep operations patient-focused and provide the level of transparency that patients and their families need, even with less staff.
Opportunities to Automate
Additional in-demand solutions for alleviating the burden on nurses during the workforce shortage include:
- Telehealth: Nurses can have face-to-face interactions with more patients per day as well as minimize their exposure to COVID-19 or other highly contagious diseases. Telehealth technology can capture data automatically, saving time and labor to transcribe information. More advanced solutions can even enable healthcare practitioners to provide care remotely with assistance from surgical robots, which can address needs in remote or underserved areas
- Digital signage: Digital signage makes navigating through hospital facilities and complexes easier, decreasing the number of questions that staff must answer to help people find their destinations.
- Mobile work carts: Enabling nurses to take the computers, devices, supplies, and everything else they need to the point of care saves time, decreases steps, and improves accuracy.
- Blockchain management: Hospitals that use nurses who work for different health systems or facilities can use blockchain solutions to make managing credentials and approvals easier for nurse managers.
- AI-powered analytics: Most data analytics provide a snapshot of how things are now or a look back at historical data. However, by leveraging systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI), analytics can be predictive, forecasting outcomes and providing nurses with the best next steps to improve them. It reduces the time healthcare professionals now spend searching through reports to identify trends and establish priorities.
Regardless of the technology that hospitals choose to support and augment nursing capabilities, intuitive touchscreen interfaces enable faster, more accurate work than using a keyboard to access data and enter information.
Touchscreens are also beneficial for the business side of hospital operations, for example, giving them a competitive edge in recruiting and hiring. Attracting new nurses in a competitive industry will require offering the best employee experiences. For younger employees, that will mean using technology to make processes easier, just as they do in their everyday lives.
You have the opportunity to develop to alleviate the challenges created by the nursing shortage, build your brand in the healthcare space, and provide more value to your clients. How will you meet the challenge?