The healthcare system simply wasn’t ready for COVID-19, and the pandemic has exposed the system’s weak links. The situation has become exacerbated by an ongoing workforce shortage. Not only are a growing number of clinicians nearing retirement, but also burnout — already a problem prior to the pandemic — has become what many are calling a parallel pandemic.
And this isn’t surprising. Nurses have been working overtime week after week, seeing tremendous loss of life firsthand, and now are being asked to support the vaccine rollout – to the tune of 11 million doses per week.
The most pressing question for healthcare tech right now is how can we curb nursing burnout in 2021?
This is a question we’ve been asking since the early days of Health IT, but new responsibilities over the last few months and growing rates of nurses leaving the profession have raised the alarm for technology companies to do more.
Healthcare leaders, clinicians, and educators have responded by developing innovative workforce solutions and education strategies to keep pace with changing care-delivery models. Specifically, around the vaccine rollout, we can ensure nurses have access to rapid, virtual education around administration best practices and patient education.
We also need to streamline the alerts going to these providers so they only receive the most actionable and important information at the point of care. These providers do not have the time to review every new study that comes out around COVID treatment options. Instead, we can leverage digital tools to provide evidence-based information that is actionable and available at the point of care.
This helps eliminate confusion around what action should be taken, and ensures all members of the care team feel empowered to care for their patients. For on-the-job training, as artificial intelligence becomes more refined and its use expands, algorithms could surface insights much earlier that generate mini-lessons, clinical updates, remediation, and reminders within existing workflows.
Wolters Kluwer, Health announces the release of EmmiEducate to improve alignment between patients and their care teams. With educational content tailored to a variety of learning and reading styles, and interoperability across disparate systems and access points, EmmiEducate gives providers the ability to easily support their patients’ information needs within their workflow, delivering easy-to-understand educational materials that mirror the guidance provided to patients during the clinical encounter.
Meeting patients where they are
EmmiEducate aids the expansion of virtual care delivery and helps providers reduce health inequities by more effectively reaching diverse populations through multiple touch points and modalities. EmmiEducate features hundreds of compelling videos, more than 8,000 leaflets in up to 20 languages, and presentation of educational materials at a fifth- to seventh-grade reading level, helping care teams provide content to patients in ways they can better understand and act on.
“How patient education is developed and shared directly impacts whether or not it will be used. Done right, educational touchpoints can improve patient understanding and adherence to their treatment plan, enhance the overall care experience, and build organizational affinity,” said Jason Burum, general manager, healthcare provider segment, clinical effectiveness, at Wolters Kluwer, Health. “By extending clinical decision support to patients, EmmiEducate aligns healthcare stakeholders in a manner that is convenient and highly effective for improving outcomes.”
New technology is set to have a significant impact on the classroom of the future for nursing education, as indicated by the results of a new survey of nurse educators published today by Wolters Kluwer, Health. “Forecast for the Future: Technology Trends in Nursing Education” identified respondents’ plans for technology usage, adoption, and investment during the next five years and shed light on the barriers and opportunities related to those initiatives.
This is the second survey of nursing school administrators, faculty, and deans conducted by Wolters Kluwer in collaboration with the National League for Nursing.
Post-COVID tech adoption
“Technology adoption was well underway in nursing education before the COVID-19 pandemic, but in transitioning to remote instruction, faculty quickly learned how diverse technologies can work together to give students an optimized, hybrid learning experience that they crave as digital learners,” said Julie Stegman, vice president, nursing segment of health learning, research and practice at Wolters Kluwer. “Educators are now seeing how technology investment can help address several of the longstanding challenges they face including clinical limitations, assessing students’ cumulative performance as they learn, and developing practice-ready nurses. That is a powerful shift.”
The survey found that 73% of institutions went fully online at the start of the pandemic and that technologies that aid in remote learning all had significant increases in adoption. Nearly 40% of respondents said they plan to offer more online courses in the future, and many forecast a continuation of the investment in technology seen during the pandemic.
Based on the survey data, the report predicts the classroom of the future will be a hybrid learning environment that is in-person and leverages existing and next-generation technologies including the emergence of virtual reality and augmented reality (VR and AR).
By Jayne Marks, vice president of global publishing, Wolters Kluwer, Health Learning, Research and Practice
While COVID-19 is at the forefront of physicians’ minds and taking up much of their learning, they must still find ways to stay current on their own specialties and ensure they are using the best available evidence and latest clinical guidelines to inform their practice.
One of the most trusted sources clinicians rely on to stay up to date is their professional medical society resources, foremost their specialty journal and annual meeting where critical practice updates are shared. In a Wolters Kluwer Physician Needs Assessment survey of nearly 1,600 US physicians conducted earlier in 2020 prior to the pandemic’s worldwide spread, the majority of physicians indicated that they would obtain health care information, resources or continuing medical education (CME) through medical societies – 78% said they would read peer-reviewed journals and 64% said they would attend annual meetings.
However, many annual meetings hosted by medical societies were cancelled in 2020 because of the safety risks associated with coronavirus and they may not revert to in-person formats in the near-future. In the absence of annual meetings and other gatherings to exchange research and ideas, physicians need other ways to stay current.
Understanding physician needs
For physicians looking to stay current in their specialty, there are three key needs:
Access to current information and evidence of the moment – “Staying current with new clinical trends/techniques” was among the top professional challenges identified by respondents to the Physician Needs Assessment survey.
Opportunities for continuing medical education – 31% of survey respondents indicated time or financial cost of maintenance of certification (MOC) as one of the top three professional challenges they will face over the next three years.
Ability to connect with peers – 50% of physicians surveyed identified “talking with a colleague who you know” as one of the top three sources for obtaining healthcare information.
Without these meetings, how will physicians get what they need?
Virtual tools: the new normal for time-pressed physicians
In today’s environment, the annual conference must be reimagined with the use of virtual tools. While this will be a significant shift, technology can provide significant advantages for both physicians and medical societies including new opportunities for engagement and information sharing.
By Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN, chief nurse, Wolters Kluwer, Health Learning, Research and Practice.
These are the days we never thought we’d see – unimagined times, pushing our nurses and healthcare workers to the brink with the demands of COVID-19. They’ve stepped up with unbelievable courage and resiliency. They’ve done so without many of the resources they’ve traditionally had, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment. But one thing that’s undoubtedly made a difference is technology.
Patients have been able to interact with their primary care provider and nurses via telehealth ensuring that patients are able to continue with the medications and treatment plans for chronic conditions and new issues.
In the acute care space, it has enabled patients to visit with their family through digital technology, and providers and nurses have been able to update the families on patients’ progress.
After patients are discharged with COVID-19, the patient is in daily contact with a nurse to make sure their condition isn’t worsening, and they understand how to care for themselves. This works to ensure patients have follow-up care and the family is supported. And those are just a few ways.
While the survey was taken prior to the pandemic, the results give insight into the role of technology as it applies to both next-generation nurses (those with less than 10 years of practice) and more experienced ones. The survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer aimed to explore the mindset of today’s nurses and healthcare workers, so hospitals can respond accordingly.
Digital natives versus techno-phobes
When looking at next-generation nurses, we should keep in mind that many of them grew up in a time with widespread use of the internet, social media, and mobile communication. Many nurses with longer tenure began their careers when the internet was in its infancy and computers weren’t an integral part of a hospital’s operations.
Next-generation nurses are, for the most part, digital natives. That comfort level does tend to influence their opinions: when care is better, next-generation nurses think it’s because of technology. 84% believe clinical-decision support systems at the point of care are making it easier to make the most informed, evidenced-based care decisions.
In addition, 84% feel specialized systems that provide treatment recommendations and integrate with electronic health records (EHRs) have a positive impact on how care is delivered.
Their understanding of technology may be a factor in them spending less time in EHRs than their more seasoned counterparts; 69% report spending too much time in EHRs, compared to 81% of more experienced nurses.
Next-generation nurses are fans of artificial intelligence (AI). 63% say they are optimistic that the use of AI will help providers get the information they need to make better care decisions.
Experienced nurses weren’t as convinced, with only half agreeing that AI will help in making better care decisions. (This insight should alert hospital leaders of the need to educate staff on how AI can improve clinical decision making so that implementation of AI will be viewed as a positive and not as a negative.)
Nurses play an all important role in healthcare’s shift from sick care to wellness-based models as the front-line professionals closest to patients. Always an intricate balance of art and science, nursing practice most continue to evolve to place patients where they should have been all along—in the center of care.
An independent survey commissioned by Wolters Kluwer of nearly 2,000 consumers, nurses, doctors, and healthcare executives in the U.S. provides insights into the top trends that will shape priorities over the next few years – for care teams, hospital leaders, health systems and consumers.
The below infographic details key findings related to challenges and opportunities impacting the nursing profession including perspectives on:
the impact of professional shortages
the growing importance of holistic care that addresses social determinants of health
generational differences between practicing nurses
More than ever, nurses need to demonstrate knowledge, confidence, competence, professionalism, empathy and kindness. And they need to be equipped with the right evidence-based tools and education resources to thrive in a changing healthcare landscape.
Wolters Kluwer, Health released new data from a survey of nearly 2,000 consumers, hospital executives, doctors and nurses in the U.S. on attitudes surrounding breakdowns in care, how costs shape care decisions and the influence of a broad lack of transparency within the healthcare system. Findings from the report, “Mending Healthcare in America 2020: Consumers & Cost,” showed alignment and deep divisions in how patients and providers view healthcare.
“Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, there has been a shift in attitudes surrounding out of control healthcare costs and a complicated and opaque healthcare system that erodes the trust of consumers and providers. Our national survey echoes this dissatisfaction, but also illuminates that those on the front lines of delivering care are taking diverging, and sometimes conflicting, paths to mitigate their concerns and prioritize actions,” said Diana Nole, CEO of Wolters Kluwer, Health.
“Mending Healthcare in America 2020” examines where each stakeholder observes breakdowns, inconsistencies and a lack of transparency throughout the system and, subsequently, how they make care choices around those perceptions.
Key survey findings include:
Differences in cost of care? Consumers and providers know it’s a problem. 98% of survey respondents across the board agree that healthcare is inconsistent and costs and care vary by location, health system and even within departments at the same hospital.
Two-thirds of consumers don’t believe they would be charged the same for a treatment or condition regardless of where they received care
79% of physicians and nurses acknowledge that cost to the patient influences what treatments they recommend.
87% of all respondents agree there is a lack of transparency in the pricing of healthcare services, including those who are prescribing care or medications
While hospital executives, nurses and physicians are most optimistic that tackling challenges in healthcare variability will lead to better patient outcomes, they are skeptical that it will lead to increased transparency in prices.
Consumers will head to the polls with healthcare in mind. The majority of all four respondent groups say healthcare policy will be a main factor when they cast their presidential votes. Similar majorities say they will vote with their wallet, favoring the candidate who has a plan to respond to rising healthcare costs to them.
Unwanted care variability is harmful, global and persistent.[i] It is a complex problem that is rooted in many factors including knowledge dissemination, patient preferences, patient adherence, resource availability, technology and healthcare financing approaches. Over-, under- and inappropriate utilization potentially harms patients and contributes meaningfully to the unsustainable trajectory of healthcare costs.
Despite the systemic challenges, there are two approaches healthcare leaders can adopt in the near-term to curb this variability.
Provide evidence-based content
In every patient encounter, clinical decisions represent the finely balanced combination of patient preferences, evidence and clinician experience. These individual decisions can contribute to care variability in a region, among a population or for a particular condition.
To address this, many healthcare organizations enlist multidisciplinary clinical committees to build guidelines or protocols to standardize care. Yet, the burden of keeping such protocols routinely updated and the challenges in promoting their adoption ends up hampering their overall effectiveness.
Turning to technology solutions in the clinical workflow that help clinicians quickly find current, evidence-based clinical and drug information can help care teams align decision making, in both familiar and unfamiliar scenarios. It is important that such content be harmonized across user types. Physicians, allied health professionals, nurses, pharmacists and patients should all have access to the same evidence-based approaches.
Patient engagement tools empower people to take ownership of their health outcomes. Several approaches are available including apps, interactive multimedia and leveraging interactive voice technology.
The benefits vary with the approach and with the conditions being addressed but the impact can be clinically important. For example, prescribing educational multimedia presentations for upcoming procedures can reduce anxiety and no-shows as patients better understand what to expect. Automated, personalized follow up calls after discharge can help nursing teams track thousands of patient readings, like pain levels and weight loss, that would be difficult to achieve with human power alone.
Turnkey fixes to cure unwanted care variability remain elusive. However, solutions that empower care teams and patients to align decision making and harmonize care are a promising start.
Hospitals and health systems are under enormous pressure
to provide high quality care in an environment of declining reimbursements and
shifting payment models. With the rise in value-based payments, provider
organizations must increasingly focus on the health and performance metrics
across whole populations.
To provide patient-centered care and remain financially
viable, providers need to adopt technologies that expand the reach and
targeting of their care teams and enable them to forge personal connections
with patients. Many provider organizations have been slow to adopt technology
for fear of de-personalizing the patient relationship. Yet technological
solutions designed for people and their specific, pressing needs can be
Take Interactive Voice Response calls (IVR), for example.
These automated calls can extend the reach of care teams who need to find out
from patients how they’re progressing in their recovery. Even better, these
calls give patients a chance to check in with caregivers using the most
natural, familiar technology there is: the telephone and the human voice. From
pre-procedure to post-discharge, here are three ways voice technology can
reduce costs while achieving better outcomes:
1. Staying Connected with Patients after Discharge
Discharge is one of the most critical handoffs in healthcare. Traditionally hospitals have employed nurses to make phone calls to recently discharged patients. But what may seem like a simple chat is in fact far more labor intensive. The volume of calls required, and the time needed to connect with patients, establish rapport and elicit critical information has made this an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. IVR calls can reduce the burden on nursing staff while also increasing the level of constructive interaction with patients.
For example, our team worked with a hospital that used two nurses to call as many patients post-discharge as they could. In a one-month period the nurses made 1,932 calls to patients – and of those calls, only 5.2% resulted in a situation that actually required the nurses’ clinical knowledge. The two nurses then started over, this time using IVR. During a same one-month period, the nurses were able to reach out to four times as many patients and connected with 79.8%. The higher rate of connection gave the hospital far more visibility into the actual health status of its discharged patients. It also saved time so nurses could concentrate on personal patient interventions that required their clinical expertise and training.
2. Breaking Down Behavioral Barriers
Voice User Interface (VUI) design is increasingly
utilized to foster emotional connections with patients and help them self-manage
their conditions. As hospitals and providers look to reduce “white coat
syndrome,” and find ways for patients to feel more comfortable sharing
information in a non-judgmental setting, human-centered VUI design can bring a
unique approach to personalization.
For instance, one of our programs reached out to patients newly diagnosed with diabetes. With focus on empathic VUI design, these patients were asked to report on key indicators such as their weight fluctuation, medications, and access to follow-up care. Flagging logic then signaled any instance when a patient may need a live nurse or some other intervention. Surprisingly, these automated calls also elicited sensitive information that may have otherwise not been flagged.
Most enrollees said depression had hindered their ability to manage their condition and 83% also said they had not discussed these issues with a healthcare professional. When given the choice, over half of those respondents opted for additional phone calls that were specifically designed to offer emotional support. Even more, the depression scores of nearly three-quarters of patients decreased over the course of their interactions.
3. Reducing Readmissions
As a last example, patients who engage with IVR phone calls are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital. At one major hospital system, 80% of enrolled patients engaged with calls and they were readmitted less often than those who did not engage. (10.7% 30-day readmission rate vs. 13%.) This result means that voice technology is helping to solve a known and important health quality problem —reducing the rate of unnecessary readmissions—as well as helping hospitals to avoid Medicare penalties. In addition, the decreased readmissions rate frees up beds for new revenue-generating patient admissions.
And the nurse caregivers are now able to work at the top of their license, increasing their job satisfaction as well as their efficiency. In the end, it’s not just caregiver satisfaction and patient outcomes that improve. Patients also appreciate the follow up from these calls, leading to increased patient satisfaction and HCAHP scores.
Ultimately, scaling patient outreach efforts with
interactive voice technology offers a number of benefits for health systems:
from more efficient and effective care management to better patient outcomes at
less cost. That’s a win-win for providers and patients alike.
Have you thanked a nurse today? Or any day, for that matter?
If not, you now have an entire week to make up for lost time. National Nurses Week 2019 runs May 6 through 12 and celebrates the innumerable contributions nurses make each day. This year’s theme is “4 Million Reasons to Celebrate,” pointing to the 4 million registered nurses licensed in the United States and the vast contributions they bring to care delivery.
Healthcare may be an ever-evolving industry, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the integral role played by nurses. In fact, their skill set is more in-demand than ever before, especially as today’s healthcare organizations navigate the evolving value-based care landscape. For example, nurses must constantly absorb new information to keep up with rapidly-changing evidence in practice while simultaneously honing their critical thinking skills to stay current in a shifting healthcare model.
The reality is that the role of nurses is changing dramatically as healthcare organizations see increased demand for services and higher-acuity patients, many with more comorbidities than ever before. Today’s nurses are critical members of the multi-disciplinary care team. They need to be the collaborators and leaders, giving a voice not only to their patients but to other nurses and caregivers as well. This is a profession that needs to produce leaders with the savvy and acumen to feel as comfortable inside a boardroom as they do at a bedside.
Simply put, knowledge is power when it comes to producing the best possible patient outcomes. Forward-thinking healthcare organizations understand this dynamic and are designing workplaces that optimize and support a culture of learning that elevates nursing skills to align with healthcare initiatives related to chronic disease management and population health.
These strategies not only support nurses as they care for patients in today’s fast-paced healthcare environments, but they help clinical leaders address growing staffing challenges amid critical professional shortages. For example, turnover rates in 2017 shot up to nearly 17 percent as the industry faces growing challenges related to burnout and dissatisfaction. Hospitals pay dearly when nursing turnover is at its highest, and it isn’t only the quality of care that suffers. According to one survey, the average cost for the turnover of a bedside RN is between approximately $40,000 and $60,000. Each percent change in nursing turnover, the survey says, will either cost or save the average hospital more than $373,000.
Nurses who feel well-equipped and supported in their professional trajectory are much more likely to find satisfaction in their work. Consequently, healthcare organizations must provide that support from the outset—addressing education gaps during onboarding while continuing to educate new nurses on how to deliver the highest quality of care. It’s a difficult balance considering nurses are dealing with a growing number of patients and a plethora of complex diseases.