By Cindy Koppen, senior vice president of clinical solutions and chief nursing officer, Banyan Medical Systems.
As healthcare systems become increasingly patient-centric, the nursing profession will no doubt evolve along a similar trajectory. That evolution will inevitably require a reconciliation between a consolidated model for care delivery and some existing functions within nursing that aren’t entirely aligned with the goal of delivering the highest-quality care.
To determine how nursing practices can more wholly align with the future of healthcare delivery methodologies, we must first look at the core function of nurses and chief nursing officers to see where technology can modernize nursing and unlock benefits where they’re needed most.
The primary goal of the CNO is to ensure staff needs are met while creating an engaging, open nursing culture that promotes improved quality outcomes for patients and financial outcomes for the healthcare provider. Hospital technology is a growing part of the CNO’s toolbox because it can support the improvement of clinical and financial performance, identify trends, issues, and developments as they relate to patient care. It can also evenly distribute the nursing workload, improving the work-life balance of nurses and increasing the time available to spend with patients.
Current and Future Nurse Cohort Challenges
Nurse cohorts and staffing concerns are already an issue for many healthcare organizations, but these obstacles will become more challenging as Baby Boomers grow older. A 2017 survey from AMN Healthcare found that 73% of nurses in the Baby Boomer generation were planning to retire in the next three years, and even middle-aged nurses can struggle with the physicality of the work. One 2008 study found that nurses needed to walk as many as five miles during a 10-hour shift, which also constrains time with patients and can make it difficult to deliver the highest-quality care.
In the face of mounting physical demands and less time with patients, it’s no surprise that the oldest and most experienced nurses frequently retire or move to less demanding private clinics, leaving a void that hospitals cannot fill due to the overall nursing shortage.
CNOs Can Support Nurses and Patients With Hospital Technology
Many hospitals are full of state-of-the-art technology, but few of these tools can have as profound an impact as virtual providers. CNOs can augment staff to handle the hands-off aspects of care, relieving some of the strain on on-site nurses by increasing their capacity and more evenly distributing their workloads, freeing up more of their time to focus on hands-on patient care and eliminating the need for end-of-shift overtime.
Virtual nurses are also an excellent source of collaboration and critical thinking skills — resources that directly impact patient outcomes and experiences for the better.