The pandemic shined a spotlight on our nation’s nursing facilities, particularly the courageous healthcare workers battling the virus from the frontlines. But that fight came at a cost. COVID-related burnout inflamed the critical staffing shortages facilities have been dealing with for decades.
With nursing homes across the country reporting significant turnover and staffing shortages as COVID hospitalization rates resurge, recruiting and retaining qualified staff will only get tougher.
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living report 94% of nursing homes are experiencing staff shortages with 75% of them saying the shortage is worse than the previous year.
While inadequate pay and scheduling are often blamed for the dwindling healthcare workforce; burnout is another factor. The physical toll of caring for critically ill patients over long shifts can lead to sheer exhaustion, insomnia, and headaches. Then there’s the mental burnout causing feelings of isolation, fear, uncertainty, loss, depression, and anxiety to name a few.
But other underlying issues attribute to the daily stressors that often overwhelm and drive away even the most dedicated staff.
Today’s Workload: More Complex Care and Mounting Administrative Responsibilities
For starters, the typical patient profile has changed. The population is older with more complex healthcare needs. The very nature of the post-acute stay is different too—hospitals transition patients to post-acute care earlier and want them discharged to home quicker. These two factors equate to sicker patients who require more acute, specialty care and strong coordination across multiple disciplines to ensure a successful, timely discharge. Which means much more demands for overworked and staffing-challenged care teams.
Caseloads are higher too, creating even more staffing challenges. Many nursing facilities turn to staffing agencies to fill the gaps, but that revolving door brings fresh faces who are not familiar with the facility, its processes, or the patients in its care.
Providing direct care is typically the most rewarding part of the job—and the reason staffers stay. But clinicians may often spend more time completing administrative paperwork then they do treating patients. From documenting assessments, medication, and progress notes to coordinating appointments to monitoring quality and regulatory issues, the list of administrative tasks is long and every item is equally important. The demands of COVID-19 add even more work including multiple daily assessments, room moves, managing PPE, infection control, and additional COVID reporting at the facility, local, state, and federal level.
Live Data Analytics Reduces Administrative Burden, Increases Bedside Care
One way to attract and retain qualified clinicians is to reduce administrative burdens and empower staff with time, tools, and resources to do what they do best—provide hands-on, patient care. Data analytics is key to supporting clinical staff as they balance workloads. Using automated systems that put live patient analytics in clinicians’ hands can reduce or eliminate some of those tasks and increase bedside care.
Leveraging patient data found in the EHR, Real Time’s Interventional Analytics gives care teams prompt access to the most current and comprehensive clinical profile on each patient. Real Time turns EHR information into actionable insights, providing detailed alerts and recommended interventions to help clinicians make more informed clinical decisions in the moment.
For example, Real Time’s 24-hour report summarizes patient data over the previous 24 hours by several categories enabling staff to quickly identify condition changes and trends, assess suggested interventions, and prioritize care. Instead of printing and pouring over page after page of progress notes for every patient in preparation for daily morning meetings and shift changes, which can take well over an hour, the report enables staff to conduct a thorough scan in 10 minutes.
With a complete view of the entire patient population, all members of the care team know exactly what is happening with each resident in real-time. Furthermore, the report quickly familiarizes new team members and agency staff with the patient population regardless of their tenure with the facility.
Enhance Care Coordination with Live Patient Acuity Monitoring
Another way Real Time’s Interventional Analytics elevates bedside care is through its hospital Readmission Risk scoring tool, CARD. The tool establishes a 72-hour baseline for each patient upon arrival and risk stratifies the individual constantly as subtle changes occur. CARD identifies patients at high risk for rehospitalization and sends live alerts to care teams with recommended interventions.
This easy-to-use tool assigns each patient a color-code of “green/yellow/red” so anyone reviewing the CARD can see who is at highest risk by their specific clinical need. What’s most helpful about this tool is the comparison to the patient’s baseline, giving clinicians—whether they are long-time veterans or temporary agency staff—a live and comprehensive risk profile for each patient.
Equipping nurses, certified nursing assistants, and other care team members with actionable data analytics creates administrative efficiencies and gives them more time to provide exceptional patient care.
About Kathy Derleth
Kathy Derleth, RN, BSN, joined Real Time Medical Systems as Senior Clinical Account Manager in June. She has 40 years of executive nursing management and leadership experience and was most recently Chief Nursing Officer at Bedrock Care, a family of healthcare and nursing facilities in Pennsylvania. Additional roles in the post-acute and long-term care arena include Vice President of Clinical for CommuniCare, Senior Director of Clinical Programs for Avalon Health Care Group, Vice President of Clinical and Operations for Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries, and Area Vice President for Golden Living, where she worked for 13 years. Kathy is a Certified Director of Nursing and a member of the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration.