About 100,000 nurses left their jobs in the past two years, and another 610,388 are likely to leave the profession by 2027. This nursing shortage leaves those who are still working in the profession with insufficient capacity to handle patient needs, leading to high levels of burnout and emotional strain that end up driving even more nurses to leave the field. Hospitals are resorting to expensive temporary staff, but this solution isn’t sustainable.
While it is impossible to solve the nursing shortage crisis all at once, there are some key considerations hospitals should keep in mind as they adopt new technology aimed at improving nurse retention, according to a new report from Accenture. Some of the report’s key recommendations for providers were to build a strong, cloud-based technology infrastructure and to involve nurses early on in the process of adopting a new digital tool.
Providers that lack a strong digital core will be unable to handle the nursing shortage, the report declared. Having a developed digital core means that a hospital has taken the steps necessary to support seamless data integration, cohesive clinical workflows and robust data protection across its entire enterprise.
Hospitals with a cloud-based digital infrastructure and willingness to test novel technologies will likely be the organizations most successful in mitigating the nursing crisis, said Tejash Shah, managing director of Accenture’s health division.
“Providers who will successfully manage this challenge long-term are investing to take advantage of emerging solutions, such as command centers, digital twins and generative AI. These solutions require a strong digital core, including a solid data foundation, and capabilities enabled by the cloud, which becomes possible by moving the EHR to the cloud,” he explained.
The severity of the nursing shortage is forcing many providers to become bolder in their approach to technology adoption, even in the midst of financial pressures, Shah pointed out.
To account for hospitals’ financial obstacles, the report recommended they stagger their technology investments. For example, a hospital might start out by adopting SaaS capabilities, which would reduce the upfront costs of cloud-based technologies they plan to adopt in the future.
“Though finances remain under pressure, providers must create and fund a technology roadmap to sustainably scale human capacity. For many organizations, this requires health system leaders to sacrifice individual goals for the common good and work across silos in new ways,” Shah said.
To ensure success when investing in a new technology, providers must involve nurses in the process from the start, he added. By doing so, nurses can provide recommendations on how the product can best be integrated into clinical workflows and give hospital leadership feedback about how the tool will affect their day-to-day work.
Buy-in from nurses is crucial because clinicians usually resist the implementation of new technology if they feel forced to change their workflow or doubt the product’s ability to address their challenges, the report pointed out.
“In healthcare, technology has historically supported functions, such as billing or documentation, without much regard to employee productivity or experience. Today, nurses spend meaningful time on documentation. If we are to solve the clinician shortage with technology — and, to be clear, we must — we have to engage nurses early to understand how technology might impact workflows and productivity,” Shah declared.
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