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As a new parent, there’s nothing scarier than being in your daughter’s hospital room when an alarm goes off and you can’t find her nurse.
But that’s exactly what happened to me.
My daughter — only a few days old — was fighting for her life in a neonatal intensive care unit, and I was in the hall, trying to find her nurse.
Of course, it wasn’t the nurse’s fault, and she was always apologetic. The reality is, she had other responsibilities, other commitments that kept her away.
At the time, I was working in a hospital, so I understood her situation. I got it. But many families don’t realize that nurses are often overwhelmed and can’t always be there for their patients.
Unfortunately, these heart-wrenching situations leave patients and their families with a lasting impression of their care team and the hospital.
What keeps nurses from the bedside
Every single day, nurses are saddled with administrative tasks — looking for equipment and supplies, tracking down medications, checking for critical lab results, collaborating with the care team and documentation, just to name a few — and inefficient workflows that take them away from their patients.
In fact, a recent study found that nurses may spend less than two hours of a 12-hour shift in direct patient care. A portion of this unproductive time is spent using old, inefficient tools for communicating and coordinating with multiple points of care, both inside and outside the four walls of the hospital.
Even today, at some of the country’s top hospitals, nurses wait hours for a simple call back from a sent page.
Worse yet, nurses are continuously flipping through multiple versions of paper on-call schedules, simply trying to figure out which specialist or attending physician is on service. Often, mistakes are made in the interpretation of these paper documents, igniting a series of follow-up efforts to relay important information to the right provider.
Meanwhile, my newborn daughter’s alarm is going off, and I’m anxiously walking the halls, looking for her nurse.
What it means to empower nurses
All across the country, hospital systems are recognizing that they have to increase the amount of time that nurses can spend on the most important task: caring for patients and comforting families.
Hospitals are researching clinical communication and collaboration vendors and investing in near-real time tools for nurses so that they can get the help they need more quickly and communicate with the people they need more easily.
Empowering nurses with a mobile, secure care team communication tool means that they receive a response back from providers an average of 30 minutes faster. It also means that nurses can respond to changing patient conditions and alarms 30 minutes faster, which has a huge impact on patient and family satisfaction.
Nurses also experience an 81% decrease in the number of repeat calls to providers, as the technology has properly identified the correct on-call provider and eliminated errors.
Today, solving this problem is possible. We can remove communication barriers. We can fix broken workflows. And we can take the administrative burden off nurses and let them get back to enhancing the care quality and the patient experience.