61% of nurses have emotional and physical fatigue, according to a recent survey. This isn’t surprising when we think about the kind of challenges nurses face on a daily basis – especially in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is surprising however, is that IT is regularly cited as a reason for burnout. Nurses have reported getting bogged down in the amount of documentation technology expects from them and are exhausted by the never-ending alerts they receive through the day. Ironically, the very thing that was meant to make their life easier can make it harder. The technologies that are commonly used by healthcare organizations today are difficult to use and demand a lot of time from the users. But what if there were something lightweight and simple to use in healthcare technology that actually did alleviate nurse burnout? Let’s take a look.
The Wrong Kind of IT Makes it Hard for Nurses to Do Their Job
Improvements in healthcare technology have been accompanied with increased documentation requirements from nurses – more boxes to be clicked and screens to be confirmed. There’s a lot of pressure associated with documentation. If they make an error or aren’t thorough enough, they may need to come back on a day off to correct charting or could even face disciplinary action. “Sometimes it does feel like we’ve gone from treating the patient to treating the computer,” noted Sophia L. Thomas, NP, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and a practicing nurse practitioner based in New Orleans in an interview with Healthcare IT News. The requirements associated with improvement in tech are so overwhelming it draws nurses away from the reason they are there – to provide patients with care.
Combine this with the onslaught of alerts nurses regularly face and it’s not a surprise so many report fatigue. Nurses report high levels of stress thanks to interruptions from texts, alerts, alarms, pages and phone calls. All of these disrupt patient care – pulling nurses away from their main focus. “For providers and nurse practitioners in particular, our main focus is always the patient,” said Thomas.
Technology Should Make it Easier for Nurses to Focus on Patient Care
In many situations, technology has made life harder for nurses – but what if there were another way? What if nurses could simply fill out a form while talking directly to the patient, click a photo of the form, and send that information directly to the EHR? There would be no need for the nurse to sit at the computer, back to patient, focusing on filling in the documentation. The process would remain interactive and focus would stay on the patient.
When it comes to notifications, the same technology could make it simple for nurses – only alerting them if it were absolutely urgent – and if the nurse were with the patient – escalating it to someone else, who is available. The nurse could continue to remain focused on the patient.
The Right Technology Means a Happier Staff and More Efficient Patient Care
Nurse burnout can have a significant impact on healthcare organizations: the turnover for replacing an experienced nurse can cost an organization between $60,000 and $100,000 according to one study. It’s important to make sure to opt for technology that supports nurses as they focus on patient care and doesn’t distract them – improving morale, preventing burn out and leading to improved patient outcomes. The right technology can be used from any device – not just a computer – and should be as simple as sending a quick message or snapping a photo of a document and sending it to the right person or EHR.
Check out some of our resources below on how you can use healthcare technology to free up nurses to focus on patient care.