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24 / 01 / 20

How Technology Will Disrupt The Nursing Shortage

The nursing field is in need of an infusion of nurses — and fast. Researchers project that 1 million RNs will retire by 2030, sparking a massive nursing shortage. Such a shortage spells disaster for the patient care settings that rely on them.

Not only the aging nurse workforce but the aging of the entire baby boomer population threatens to put pressure on the health care system as a whole — and patients will pay the price.

The nursing shortage has made it more difficult for facilities, especially the post-acute facilities, to sufficiently staff. Insufficient staffing, especially in post-acute care, is increasing the stress of the nursing role. As a result, nurses are getting burned out more quickly and are increasingly more unhappy.

There are a number of issues that, if solved, could allow a greater number of nurses to enter the field each year, provide more nurse faculty to expand nursing programs and introduce better pay for nurses.

But it could also use an experience upgrade. Nurses cite increased stress, burnout and lack of a healthy work-life balance as the reasons they leave the profession.

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That’s where technology comes in. Mobile apps, scheduling technology and blockchain credentialing can improve the nursing experience, and this, in turn, can help reduce turnover, improve retention and perhaps even lessen the impact of the nursing shortage.

The Power Of The Mobile Movement

Much like ride-hailing apps, like Uber and Lyft, have used mobile technology to disrupt the traditional taxi industry, mobile nurse staffing apps have the potential to upend the traditional nurse staffing industry. In both cases, mobile applications allow for more efficient operations; they do away with phone tag between the company and consumer and instead use smart technology to pair consumers with rides and nurses with shifts, respectively.

If you can harness push notifications and text messages, then you have an excellent opportunity to capture your audience’s attention. Consumers look at their mobile phones an average of 52 times per day, according to the U.S. edition of the 2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey from Deloitte.

Mobile staffing apps can keep nurses more connected to their profession. Through data-learning, mobile technology can study a nurse’s behavior (their preferred shifts) and tailor push notifications to nurses to alert them when their preferred shift times are available. So nurses won’t just think about picking up shifts with agencies when they need cash — they’ll be alerted about available shifts on a regular basis, keeping them engaged and looking for more work.

Scheduling Technology Encourages Flexible Work Practices

Typically, if you’re a nurse working for a hospital or a post-acute facility, you’re mandated to work a certain amount of hours, nights and/or weekends a month. On top of that, nurses are often asked to stay on for an extra shift if the next rotation’s staff is light or another nurse calls off. That said, there’s very little control a nurse has over their schedule — and by extension, their life.

With facility augmented scheduling technology, nurses provide their most ideal schedule to meet their families’ needs while the scheduling technology optimizes these schedules in coordination with their other nursing colleague’s availability. Additionally, technology-enhanced scheduling allows for a streamlined process so that nurses are able to switch shifts with their other nursing colleagues for times when they need off.

Ultimately, these benefits lead to fewer call-offs, increased caregiver consistency, and an easier job for nursing schedulers and managers.

If you can increase the happiness of the entire nursing department from management to individual nurses, there will be less burnout and fewer nurses leaving the profession.

Blockchain Credentialing

The time it takes for nurses to gather and submit their credentials creates a slowdown in the hiring process. With blockchain credentialing, nurses can store all their documents, training history, licensures, references and even reviews from patients and colleagues in a medium that is secure and shareable with other employers. If one employer isn’t the right fit for a nursing professional or they are just looking for a different care setting, nurses will be able to quickly move to a position that can better meet their personal needs.

Lengthy credentialing processes can also be a pain for facilities trying to hire. Blockchain can expedite the hiring process for health care organizations that desperately need staff; if a nurse’s credentials have already been reviewed and approved by a prior organization, facilities can simply use those credentials and save themselves lost time and expenses of another round of credentials.

The Future Is Here

There’s a lot that needs to be done to combat the nursing shortage — from expanding nursing programs to raising nurse pay — but improving the nurse experience is an essential step to recruiting nurses and keeping them in the profession. Better nurse experiences in every care setting can improve retention and, hopefully, at the very least, stymie the loss of nurses from the field each year.Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?