How to Advocate for Better Communication Technology for Nurses

05.06.19 Cheryl McKay, PhD, RN Healthcare
How to Advocate for Better Communication Technology for Nurses

Clinical Communication Technology Helps Healthcare Leaders Care for their Nurses –
Allowing More Time with Patients

Happy National Nurses Week! May 6th marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, the annual observance that recognizes the countless contributions nurses make to the healthcare community. This year’s theme is “4 million reasons to celebrate” in honor of the positive impact made by America’s registered nurses.

Celebrating this mighty force of caregivers is more important than ever as the U.S. faces a nursing shortage that threatens the ability to provide safe, quality care. An aging workforce, shrinking number of faculty to educate nursing students, and competing professional options for those entering the workforce all contribute to the current shortage and are expected to continue into the next decade, according to a recent study. In fact, in the United States, 1.1 million vacancies will open up for registered nurses by 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Making matters worse, many nurses are considering leaving the profession altogether, due in large part to burnout. And inefficient and dated communication technology for nurses – like pagers and fax machines – aren’t helping. In fact, 82 percent of millennials say workplace technology would influence a job decision, according to The Future Workforce Study commissioned by Dell.

 

Nurse Communication Optimization

Nurse Communication Optimization Path eBook

 

One way for Nurse Leaders to show they care for their nursing staff during National Nurses Week and throughout the year is to ensure they have the tools to do their job efficiently. Advocating for the latest and greatest communication technology for nurses can go a long way to make the lives of your nurses more satisfying. Here are four things to consider as you do so:

1 – End the reliance on outdated methods of communication

Reliance on outdated methods of communication such as unruly in-baskets, pagers, fax machines, and hard-to-access patient data, all contribute to nurse burnout. While a clinical communications platform can’t solve all of the challenges nurses face, it can help streamline common processes so that nurses can spend more time with patients and less time trying to reach physicians and other care team members.

This is especially true for nurses just entering the profession who have a very different expectation of what the new world of work should look like. These users are often taken aback when forced to learn how to use aging technology, Becker’s Hospital Review reports.

For a large portion of your nursing workforce, advocating for smartphones enabled with a mature clinical communication application can ease the frustration created by inefficient healthcare processes. The familiarity of secure text messaging, voice, and video chat will help drive adoption and mobilize your nursing staff. This means nurses won’t be running all over the hospital to check on equipment, return calls from hospital staff, answer bedside calls, check critical lab results, track down a physician and more. Instead, the nurse can manage incoming requests through one device and dedicate more time to the patient care.

2. Consider the network effect

At many hospitals I visit across the country I still see a lot of dissatisfaction from nurses who can’t do their job effectively due to poor communication solutions. Often, the nurses are using one system for communication, the physicians another system, and ancillary staff yet another communications solution. This makes it incredibly difficult to get a hold of the right person at the right time in order to coordinate care for the patient.

An integrated communication platform can be an incredibly powerful way to make your nurses’ lives easier, but only if everyone else is using it. If everyone is on the same solution you will benefit from a network effect. The result – your entire health network in the palm of your hand, with just a few taps you can communicate securely with the right person at the right time.

3. Provide access to critical information at the point of care

Managing critical lab results is often a major pain point for nurses since results are posted in the EHR and the nurse does not post him/herself at the workstation. When results are posted, nurses spend time tracking down the correct physician, which often requires sending a page with no way to confirm that the page was received. The result is countless delays and potential safety concerns as patient interventions may not happen in a timely fashion.

With a clinical communication solution like TigerConnect in play, the nurse is no longer tethered to their computer or spending time chasing down the correct physician. The moment a critical lab result is ready the ordering physician, attending nurse, and the lab department can all receive an alert on their smartphone. A message status indicator lets nurses know when a message has been delivered and read, while automated alerts send physicians actionable information in a single, convenient, priority message. You can even use acknowledgments to track responses and meet regulatory compliance. The result, nurses spend less time searching for the right provider and less time on the phone relaying information, which equates to more time caring for patients and happier nurses!

4. Help nurses more easily manage transitions of care

Whether it is an admission, discharge or transfer – when a patient needs to be moved or transported the logistics of the process can be tricky to coordinate.

Complicating care transitions are conditions such as dementia, mental illness, language barriers, and more. Through any care transition, the nurse plays a vital role in coordinating medication reconciliation, sharing details to social workers or primary care physicians (PCPs), and reviewing the care plan with the patient’s family. A centralized communication tool provides a single resource for coordinating all of these communications, even those outside the hospital system. A clinical communication platform also eases coordination with the transport team so patients can be transported safely and in a timely manner.

For a more in-depth look at strategies that help nurse teams realize time savings, productivity gains, and improvements in the quality of care so they can spend more time doing what they do best: caring – download our eBook: Communication Optimization for Nurses.

TWEET THIS: Show your nurses you care this National #NursesWeek by advocating for clinical communication technology

Nurses Making a Difference

While we know there are four million registered nurses, we wanted to recognize four nurses in our TigerConnect user base making a difference:

1 – John M Harahus, RN, NHDP-BC, CHEC, CFRN, CEN, PHRN, Trauma Integration Specialist, Trauma Program at Geisinger Medical Center

John is instrumental in the use of TigerConnect, always advocating and sharing stories about the unique ways Geisinger is utilizing the product to improve the quality of care in the Trauma Center at Geisinger.

2 – Tiera DiMarco, MSN, RN-BC, Clinical Systems Analyst, Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center

Tiera is a true advocate of TigerConnect as well as a true partner. She played a key role in the deployment and success of TigerConnect at Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center, and continues to work on different strategies to increase adoption.

3 – Christine Tarver, DNP, RN, CNS, NEA-BC, Director of Medical / Surgical Services at El Camino Hospital 

Chris is a champion for her patients at El Camino Hospital and a strong leader. She is hard working, dedicated, caring, and knowledgeable. She is such a rock star in fact, that she inspires our team at TigerConnect to continuously improve our products and services to meet the unique needs of nurses. Thank you for being the strong leader and patient advocate we need.

4 – Sherri Hess, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, Banner Health

Sherri is an advocate for ensuring nurses have smartphones in the workplace. In a recent article she stated:  “if the patient in a hospital bed pushes their nurse call button, would you prefer to talk to a unit clerk who then has to find the nurse and ask them to send your nurse to patient A in room 324. Imagine the patient pushes the same nurse call button and it goes directly to the nurse’s smartphone and you can speak directly to your nurse.” Thank you Sherri for “stepping up” as a nurse leader.

These four lucky nurses will receive a TigerConnect care package as a small gesture of thanks for all they do to care for others all year long.

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