Reduce the Headache of Staffing Issues in Healthcare
What’s Causing the Headache?
The COVID-19 pandemic has put massive strains on healthcare systems, as hospitals and facilities are not only filled beyond capacity but also experiencing critical labor shortages. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), hospital employment has decreased by nearly 94,000 since February 2020, with a loss of over 8,000 between August 2021 and September 2021 alone. These staffing issues in healthcare have steep costs: one workforce data analysis showed that rising overtime hours, increased use of agency and temporary labor, and higher wages to keep existing staff are costing hospitals and other facilities $24 billion more per year for labor than pre-pandemic levels.
The headache isn’t likely to subside anytime soon. Worsening emotional health and wellbeing is a major contributing factor to staffing issues in nursing. The Washington Post reported that roughly 3 in 10 healthcare workers have considered leaving the field, while 6 in 10 say pandemic stress has caused mental harm and burnout. One analysis of EMSI data predicts a critical shortage of 3.2 million healthcare workers by 2026. What can hospitals and other facilities do in the face of these issues? There are technology solutions that create process improvement in healthcare, enabling facilities to do more with fewer people and make the job easier for the staff they have.
Treating the Symptoms
With any ailment, a treatment plan is needed; and pain points in the workplace are no different. Adopting new healthcare technologies, such as tablets, can improve the workflow of your minimal staff, reduce the amount of paperwork, and build a more modern environment to support your workers. Here’s how tablets can assist healthcare staffing:
Incorporating portable, ergonomic tablets will give your staff the freedom of mobility. Providers can easily go from room to room seeing patients without having to run back and forth to a stationary PC they’d have to log in and out of (and possibly wait in line for). The time saved will give them the ability to visit more patients in a single shift and offer more attention to personalized care. Plus, accuracy of records increases as providers don’t have to rely on hastily written notes that get entered into the system later without patient input. Greater efficiency and improved patient outcomes create higher job satisfaction for healthcare workers.
Mobile tablets also create a more contact-free and safe environment for staff and patients. Healthcare tablet casings can be made with antimicrobial materials to decrease the spread of germs and bacteria, and they will likely be handled by fewer people than a shared PC. Reducing the fear of health risks will ease at least some of the burnout-creating pandemic stress for workers.
Concerned about the durability of tablets that will be wiped down frequently? Look for a ruggedized tablet that is built to withstand the hazards of a healthcare environment. These will have an Ingress Protection (IP) rating with numbers indicating the degree of resistance to solid particles (dust and dirt) and liquids (anything from spilled coffee to being dropped in the sink).
Tablets can automate various workflow processes, allowing your staff to spend more time with patients and less time with paperwork. Not only will providers avoid having to write, then transcribe, handwritten patent notes, but patient information will also be more secure and confidential, because it is entered directly into the system instead of written on a piece of paper that can be lost.
Providers can also use tablets to automatically send prescriptions to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice. As reported in Healthcare IT News, tablets reduce the turnaround time needed for prescribers to approve authorization and refill requests from pharmacies and patients by up to 90%. Plus, drug interaction, dosage information, the patient’s history, and other medications are at the provider’s fingertips for safer as well as more timely prescription management.
Tablets can be used to check out discharged patients directly from their rooms. This process can save time, increase confidentiality, and eliminate the need for additional staff to run a checkout desk.
When you give your staff the tools they need to do their jobs more efficiently and safely, patient outcomes and provider satisfaction improve. This development, in turn, makes it more likely that you can retain your staff.
The Ongoing Prescription
While staffing may be down, the patient numbers are still as high as ever before. Don’t let this crisis be the demise of your facility. The staffing shortage in healthcare is likely to be a chronic condition — but it is manageable.
When it comes to healthcare, there are two essential things to keep in mind:
- the comfort and stability of your staff;
- and the quality of care you provide to your patients.
You can accommodate both, regardless of the number of employees you have. Incorporate a tablet solution to help build back your staff’s confidence and diminish the headache of labor shortages.