The following is a guest blog post by Karlene Kerfoot, Chief Nursing Officer at API Healthcare.
Technology is an undeniable force in the healthcare industry and plays a daily role in a nurse’s life. Nurses are responsible for managing devices and utilizing the electronic health records, among many other things. Whenever patient care requires a nurse, they will interact with advanced technologies. As a result, improving these digital systems to better improve clinicians’ ability to provide care is at the top of mind for most hospitals.
While hospitals and health systems work to implement and improve technologies, it is important to keep in mind how that technology can have larger implications. One consideration is how the innovation impacts your work staff’s satisfaction.
Nurses are the heart of the healthcare team and are the most patient-facing representatives. Research has shown that changes in technology, among other things, may allow for substantial improvements in the use of nurses’ time and the delivery of safe patient care. However, technology that isn’t nurse-friendly can impede the work of the nurse. When hospitals find ways to streamline processes and make things more convenient for nurses to do their jobs, it can lead to increased job satisfaction. Furthermore, nurses who feel empowered in their roles are more effective and report better patient care, which is one of the ultimate goals hospitals set for success.
In addition to how technology helps nurses during their day-to-day jobs, hospitals can also use technology to manage broader job satisfaction when it comes to things like staffing and scheduling. Nurses often face a unique set of challenges when it comes to their schedules, workflow and even things like career development – all of which requires hospitals to rethink how they enable work satisfaction through technology.
For example, because patient needs can be unpredictable, it is often times challenging for hospitals to predict their staffing needs on an hourly or daily basis, especially during spikes around the holidays that pull nurses away from families and personal needs.
If a nurse is consistently working overtime hours, situations like handling too many patients or being assigned to patients outside of their training/expertise can inhibit their ability to advance their careers. In addition, fatigue and stress as a result of nurses working extensive periods of overtime can result in serious and potentially life-threatening medical errors. In fact, the odds of making an error are more than three times higher when nurses work shifts of 13 hours or more.
Newer workforce technology systems for nurses can help to ensure a fair and equitable workload so managers can set up their staff for success, and make changes to schedules by pairing up staffing needs to things like patient acuity or census numbers by the day or hour. These technologies also give nurses the opportunity to take more control over their schedules and avoid the burnout.
The ability to use tools that help with staffing needs supports additional research that shows that nurses who work excessive amounts of overtime, produce lower quality work and their happiness levels decrease, which ultimately impacts the patient satisfaction and hospital’s bottom line.
The value technology has brought to healthcare is growing by leaps and bounds, but at the core of healthcare are the patients and the people who can help them. Technology has infinite ability to help both, and it is important that health systems have access to resources that allow them to make better staffing decisions.
About Dr. Karlene Kerfoot
Dr. Karlene Kerfoot is the Chief Nursing Officer for API Healthcare, a GE Healthcare Company. API Healthcare is a leader in healthcare workforce optimization technology and service. Dr. Kerfoot is widely acknowledged for her work in patient safety, data-driven staffing and scheduling, creating healing environments and healing sanctuaries for staff, pioneering models of shared governance, and achieving excellence in quality outcomes.