Healthcare is experiencing numerous challenges including staffing shortages, burnout, and operational inefficiencies, all of which were exacerbated by the pandemic.
The situation is so critical that, according to a recent McKinsey survey, 32% of the nurses who responded said may leave their current positions because of insufficient staffing, workload, and emotional toil. AONL, the American Organization of Nurse Leaders completed its fourth longitudinal nursing leadership survey, which shares similar themes. Based on responses from 2,200 nurses, the findings indicate that “…while the emotional health and well-being of nurse leaders has slightly improved, it remains the top issue.”
So, how is the healthcare industry designing and putting into place operational efficiencies that reduce the weight and stress placed on clinicians and create a supportive culture that enables them to better focus on providing quality patient care?
To consider this issue, UKG and the American Hospital Association (AHA) partnered for a webinar, Unique Perspectives on Creating Operational Efficiencies in Healthcare. It featured a lively discussion among these panelists:
- Ryan McGarry, MD, emergency physician, producer/director of Code Black and executive producer of the NetFlix documentary PANDEMIC.
- Dr. Betty Jo Rocchio, DNP, RN, CRNA, CENP, EBP-C, senior vice president and system chief nursing officer at Mercy
- Nanne M. Finis, RN, MS, and chief nursing executive at UKG and serves as the discussion moderator.
The conversation covered these topics:
- Unburdening healthcare clinicians by reducing manual tasks
- Creating operational efficiencies
- Providing real-time data to improve patient care
- Ideas for investing in the wellness and care of those who care so much for others
The panel was encouraged to think outside of the traditional hospital perspective to explore clever solutions to everyday challenges. They also embraced the mantra “work smarter not harder.”
Here are paraphrased summaries of key insights that were shared during the hour-long conversation.
Why Flexibility, Efficiency, and Recognition Should Be the Focus of Clinician Wellness
Nanne Finis: What are the compelling workforce issues facing hospitals and healthcare in general?
Work-life balance – Betty Jo Rocchio said, “We should be focusing on how people live their lives.” She explained that the pandemic taught people that work is a part of life and not one’s whole life. And while not limited to the nursing profession, nurses are keenly aware of their career progression. For those who are younger and just beginning their careers, flexibility for family is important. Those in their mid and late careers are looking for more challenges and new learning opportunities. For healthcare employers, this means that offering flexibility and work-life balance options are more important than ever to attract and then retain their workforces.
Video communication – Ryan McGarry added, “Before the pandemic there were no work from home options [for healthcare providers].” Now, practitioners and patients are more comfortable with virtual visits, which gives everyone more options and flexibility. He cautions that while we (as a society) embrace technology, there’s a tendency to make it complicated. For technology to help unburden frontline workers, it must be simple, and it needs to be optimized for frontline workers so that they can focus on what is truly important – quality patient care.
Finding efficiencies – According to Betty Jo Rocchio, “In the healthcare environment, nurses touch almost everything because they are there 24/7 managing patient care.” During an average 12-hour shift, nurses spend, on average, more than a quarter of their time – more than 200 minutes – documenting within systems. That’s time not spent with patients, which is frustrating for those patients and their caregivers.
Executive leadership – Ryan McGarry discussed the relationship struggles that exist between “the floor” clinical staff and executive leadership. To solve it, he suggests executives should be more physically visible and available to care teams as well as more transparent in their decision making.
Nanne Finis: What do healthcare organizations need to do to drive engagement and improve retention?
Recognition – Ryan McGarry said, “We can learn a lot from the restaurant industry and the power of tipping wait staff immediately after providing service.” There’s power in capturing and providing recognition in real time as opposed to something that comes weeks later. Real-time performance evaluations that result in rewards and extra compensation at the end of a shift will make a difference in performance.
Address workloads – Betty Jo Rocchio, “What keeps me up at night is worrying that our people are working so hard that they're exhausted in their everyday life.” That’s why we’re figuring out how to simplify workloads and making technology mobile with voice activation so that it’s a seamless experience. We’re also reviewing what we’re measuring and getting away from ratios. Instead, we’re looking at perceived workload, which incorporates the mental and physical aspects of nursing.
Address wellness -- Ryan McGarry added, “I think so much of retention comes down to investing in their wellness and their care.” This means fueling staff mentally, emotionally, and physically. In other words, it’s beyond providing free pizza in the breakroom.
Learn more about how and why your healthcare organization can improve its operational efficiency in our full study, Rethinking Nursing Productivity to Enhance Organizational Performance.
Learn more about the clinical expertise within UKG and how that expertise helps advance technology and meaningful work experiences in healthcare.
Explore technology solutions like UKG Dimensions, UKG Talk, and Scheduling Tools, which can free up time for clinical resources to meet patient care demands.