3 Ways to Save Nurses’ Time With Better Communication
Nurses play a central role in providing patient-centered, cost-effective care. They are responsible for care coordination and communication with each patient’s family members, as well as a growing care team of physicians and specialists, ancillary staff, and care coordinators. In addition to nurses’ growing list of daily non-clinical tasks, inefficient care coordination workflows prevent them from providing better patient care.
A 2018 time and motion study revealed that in four hours, nurses spent around 32 minutes communicating with patients and family and 51 minutes communicating and coordinating care with members of the care team1—fully 34.6% of nurses’ time each day. Technology aimed at improving nurse workflows has often contributed to their frustration by adding siloed, task-specific “solutions” to their workload. On top of this, nurse turnover rates increased from 13.5% to 16.7% during 2019.2 From 2020-2021, nurses felt burnt out and overworked due to increased patient demand, poor communication, and hospital staffing shortages.
Let’s talk about an alternative approach to help these medical heroes on the frontlines. Read below for three ways clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) technology can help healthcare organizations empower their nurses to drive patient-centered care.
Reduce Communication Cycle Times
Communication workflows can be cumbersome, requiring nurses to reference several systems or paper on-call schedules. When they go to page, call, and relay information through the office staff, they have to wait for the intended recipient to call back. This error-prone process causes care delays and requires repetitive steps when a provider is unavailable.
An improved communication strategy built around an integrated healthcare solution can reduce average response times from 45 minutes to 20 minutes or less.3 Here are a few capabilities that make it easier for nurses to find the right physician at the right time:
- A single, unified directory to find and contact clinicians by name, role, and on-call status (e.g. “cardiologist on call”).
- Ability to send messages to the whole patient care team at the touch of a button.
- Built-in physician contact preferences to ensure communication is delivered via the most preferred messaging alert method.
- Read receipts and smart escalation routing to ensure messages are read, acknowledged, and acted upon in a timely manner.
- Message history and EHR integration for quick context.
Faster communication leads to a safer, quicker, and higher-quality patient experience.
“When healthcare professionals communicate effectively—conveying critical information in a timely or easily understandable manner, clearly spelling out orders or instructions, and answering questions thoroughly and thoughtfully—they deliver safer and higher-quality care.” -James Merlino, MD
Integrate Alerts and Critical Result Notifications
Alarms, alerts, and other notifications continue to be named among the top 10 health technology hazards for 2020,4 impacting patient satisfaction and contributing to alarm fatigue. This fatigue continues to be an issue for healthcare employees and nursing staff.
In a 2015 study, nurses reported that only 52% of bed calls required nursing care, while others could be answered by support staff.5 Constant interruptions reduce care efficiency and require nurses to make multiple unnecessary trips to patient rooms. While nurses are inundated with alerts, they are not adequately alerted of critical results and orders that truly need their assistance. They are forced to repeatedly check the EHR for updates, wasting valuable time for patients in need.
Centralizing alerts and communication across multiple systems, including the EHR and nurse call system, can eliminate noise, add context to alert notifications, and call attention to critical alerts by allowing:
- Delivery of alerts to mobile devices, where nurses can accept, escalate, or call back to speak with the patient.
- Push notification of critical results (lab or radiology) or physician orders to speed up time to care.
- Routing of nonclinical alerts to patient care techs or nursing assistants.
- Workflow rules to help ensure that only critical alarms disrupt normal workflows and are differentiated with a distinct alert tone.
- Clinical surveillance to send push alerts for sepsis, respiratory deterioration, organ failure, etc.
- Routing of “leads off” alarms to only alert the nurse assigned to that specific patient, set to escalate to the charge nurse if the assigned nurse does not respond within a predetermined time frame, eliminating an audible, ward-wide alert.
In addition to better medical alert systems, learn how nurses can improve self-care.
Simplify Patient Engagement
Nurses are tasked with keeping family members up to date on patient status, sharing care instructions, arranging discharge, and following up with patients and their families after discharge. As nurses invest increasing amounts of time in patient and family engagement activities, they become more confined to the nurses’ station and less available at the patient bedside.
Post-discharge patient engagement relies heavily on phone communication. This has a declining impact due to phone tags and low voicemail retrieval rates. With spammy robocalls and unsolicited messages on the rise, it’s no wonder patient follow-up becomes an arduous task.
On the other hand, secure texting with patients and families allows health systems to automate more effective outreach in the following ways:
- Share care instructions, arrange discharge, and answer questions.
- Route inbound messages to the call center, rather than the nurse, for triage.
- Automate patient outreach, such as surveys, post-discharge instructions (tailored to the patient profile), and referrals.
- Support two-way communication and allow individuals to respond to patients as needed, leveraging the expertise of nurse assistants, call agents, and more.
Start Saving Nurses’ Time
PerfectServe’s CC&C solution with patient engagement capabilities helps streamline nurse workflows, reduce care delays, improve patient safety, and boost patient satisfaction.
- Nurses’ Time Allocation and Multitasking of Nursing Activities: A Time Motion Study, AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings, 2018: 1137-1146, Yen, P. et al., 2018: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371290/#r34-2975707
- Why so many nurses are quitting (and what to do about it), Peng, J., Rewers, L., 2021: https://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2021/10/06/nurse-turnover
- Secure Clinical Communications Makes Real Patient Impact, Health IT Outcomes, Griffith, A., 2015: healthitoutcomes.com/doc/secure-clinical-communications-makes-real-patient-impact-0001
- 2020 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards Executive Brief, 2020: org/landing-2020-top-ten-health-technology-hazards
- Interruptions of nurses’ activities and patient safety: an integrative literature review, Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem, Monteiro Cintia et al., 2015: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4376046