Way back in 2020 (seems like so long ago, right?) Forbes was hailing the importance of using nurse staffing technology to combat the pending nursing shortage. I think it is safe to say that we are here. After a physically and mentally destructive pandemic, the nursing profession has emerged even more battered and bruised than before.
What is Going On with the Nurses?
Nurses historically are typecast to give and serve, sometimes to the detriment of themselves. Combine that fact with stagnant pay rates, increasing duties, and worsening nurse-to-patient ratios, and many are leaving the profession or retiring early. Some stay in nursing but leave the bedside for other roles with better hours. Work/life balance in nursing seems to be a laughable concept. The core structure is typically three 12-hour shifts per week, often pushed to 13 or 14 hours once report and charting are finished. However, most nurses can tell you they are under constant pressure to pick up more shifts, in the form of texts and calls on their days off – and the guilt that accompanies them.
As a consequence of this stressful nursing environment, the number one reason nurses are leaving is because of a lack of work-life balance, leading to burnout.
Researchers project that 1 million RNs will retire by 2030 – a number that outpaces the graduation rates of new ones. More resources are being invested in education programs to produce more qualified nurses, but instructors are also needed. This strategy is a good one, but it will take years to effectively mitigate the shortage.
Another strategy is to adjust workflows, shifting more duties to nursing assistants and techs, while RNs operate at the “top of their license” only doing duties that cannot be done by others. This strategy works for some care environments, but not for others – the ICU for example.
In its article titled “How Technology Will Disrupt the Nursing Shortage”, Forbes discusses how technology can work to help solve one of the core problems – work-life balance and the associated stress and guilt. Mobile apps and scheduling technology have the power to improve the nursing experience, which produces results like improved retention, decreased turnover, and ultimately lessening the impact of the nursing shortage.
How Can an App Do All That?
Many apps have revolutionized industries – think about Uber and how it has forever disrupted the taxi business. The same is true for Door Dash, Instacart, and many others. In all of these cases, mobile apps and technology have made processes more efficient and less prone to errors.
Traditionally, nursing departments are staffing a month ahead of time, for the “average” patient load on the unit. This is accomplished using a spreadsheet and compiling knowledge about each nurse’s preferences, time off requests, typical weekend schedule, and credentials. Trying to meet each nurse’s scheduling needs while maintaining a balance of experience and meeting the unit’s needs is no easy task. Once that task is done, many things happen to disrupt the perfectly created spreadsheet. Nurses get sick, they have family obligations, and they need to trade shifts with someone else. Patient census climbs, flu and RSV surges begin, and the hospital becomes full.
These day-to-day staffing headaches often keep managers and charge nurses texting and calling nurses at all hours of the day. Nursing units will also reach out to other departments to try to find help, hoping that another unit is in better shape. The problem? This approach is very inefficient, taking a lot of time and resources without yielding much result except frustration on both ends of the phone. Nurses feel like they can’t get a day off in peace, and managers are desperate for help.
By using a cloud-based app, charge nurses can push messages and requests out to EVERY nurse that is qualified to work in that department, by simply posting them in the app. No more looking up phone numbers, typing out texts, calling and leaving voicemails, and getting turned down time after time. Nurses that are on vacation or requested days off can be excluded from messaging, according to the parameters set.
Nurses’ credentials can be stored, such as training in telemetry, experience with postpartum, or ICU experience. Pushes can be sent out to everyone, all at once – along with information about any bonus pay or incentives. Nurses can accept or decline a shift with the touch of a button – yielding a higher percentage of open shifts filled, day after day.
Once utilized, this technology has the power to:
- Reduce third-party nursing agency reliance and high costs.
- Optimize the use of existing staff, giving everyone the same information and earnings opportunity at once.
- Produce better-staffed facilities that are able to provide better care experiences.
- Improve nurse satisfaction and retention.
- Reduce the pressure on charge nurses and managers, decreasing their burnout as well.
The Rise family of technology solutions is at the forefront of cutting-edge staffing solutions with its product Demand Workforce, a full-service RCM staffing solution that has been shown to:
- Reduce agency staffing costs by more than 50%
- Optimize existing staff to fill unplanned open shifts
- Fill 70% more open shifts, month after month.
Ready for a Demo? Contact us to get started.