By Will O’Connor, M.D., chief medical information officer, TigerConnect
When the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 was no longer a global pandemic, everyone breathed a maskless sigh of relief and tried to put the devastation of a three-year-long crisis behind them. But now, the healthcare industry faces another pandemic – a nurse staffing crisis years in the making.
A recent report by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing found that nearly 100,000 registered nurses had left the profession since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, when exposure was high and support was low. What’s more startling is that another 600,000 nurses intend to leave by 2027 due to stress, cognitive burnout, and retirement. This labor shortage adds to the factors pushing nurses to leave as their workloads inevitably increase while available resources remain scarce. But what’s at the root of this mass exodus?
Navigating The Great Attrition
As of March 2023, 45% of inpatient nurses reported they are likely to leave their role in the next six months because they feel undervalued by their organization and have an unmanageable workload, contributing to burnout, stress, and cognitive burden. As nurses navigate the complexities of providing care to multiple patients, they face the challenge of using ineffective communication methods such as phone and email and balancing various interruptions and disruptions, all of which obstruct patient care. In fact, miscommunication is the root of over 70% of sentinel events, resulting in $1.7 billion in malpractice suits over five years.
In a recent joint survey conducted by Becker’s Healthcare and TigerConnect of more than one-hundred clinical leaders across various healthcare ecosystems, respondents provided valuable insights into the perceived risks to patients and care providers stemming from communication and workflow processes that put care on the line. These risks include:
- 68% of respondents cited an increase in staff frustration with slow response times or lack of response
- 64% of respondents noted that numerous alerts and system notifications lead to cognitive overload, also known as alarm fatigue
- Over half, or 56%, stated that suboptimal communications create the risks of delays in patient care
Enhancing Clinical Collaboration
Given these insights, it is evident that to develop a successful staffing strategy, healthcare leaders need to understand how nurses spend their time, their desired allocation of time, and how communication methods affect job satisfaction. By identifying the detrimental effects of inadequate workflows and broken communication methods, healthcare organizations can seek ways to alleviate the burdens on nurses and allow them to thrive and deliver exceptional patient care.
Clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) solutions can be used alone or seamlessly integrated with relevant hospital systems, like an EHR, to centralize patient and care team communication on one unified platform. Real-time communication through secure messaging, video, and voice calls enhances clinical decision-making so patients receive quality care faster. Integrating a hospital system’s data with a CC&C platform also reduces nurses’ frustration from delayed responses by allowing the real-time sharing of patient information, test results, and treatment plans across various departments and locations, ensuring that all relevant healthcare providers are well-informed.
How CC&C Can Address and Mitigate Alarm Fatigue
Healthcare ecosystems and facilities are high-stress environments, often overflowing with attention-demanding incidents and situations. Compounded by the growing attrition rate among caregivers, in conjunction with more systems that bring their own set of alarms and notifications being pushed onto remaining staff, the inevitable result is alarm fatigue. According to a Journal of Patient Safety study, nurses are disproportionately impacted by frequent alarms and notifications. These frequent interruptions create fatigue and can negatively impact the health of a patient and the healthcare facility.
By leveraging a CC&C platform, healthcare facilities can help reduce the cognitive burden of their nursing staff by routing alarms and alerts to the right person through a single cloud-based platform. Alerts from EHRs, lab systems, physiological monitors, and more are routed into one single-paned and scalable solution streamlining operations and enhancing the overall patient experience while also addressing and mitigating heightened stress levels.
How CC&C Helps Healthcare Organizations Navigate 21st-Century Challenges
Improved clinical collaboration, communication, and workflows enable hospital leaders to navigate and overcome challenges impacting nursing staff performance. By investing in technologies that streamline care team communication and care delivery, healthcare systems alleviate administrative burdens on nurses, promote efficient organization-wide communication, and utilize metrics for workflow optimization. Through enhanced clinical collaboration and communication, healthcare organizations foster interdisciplinary teamwork, leverage technology solutions, and implement collaborative care models, leading to improved nursing performance and alleviation of ongoing pressures.