Work Smarter, Not Harder: Fix Your Workflow, Retain Your Staff

Andy Figallo, VP of Partner Success at Vibe Health by eVideon shares three tips for moving from design to workflow optimization with smart room technology.

In a May 2022 survey, only 12% of nurses reported that they were happy in their job. Nurses in the clinical setting were least satisfied with their jobs and 40% said serious changes were needed to keep them in their current role. While these numbers aren’t terribly surprising given 'The Great Resignation' and the mass exodus of workers that have left the industry in recent years, it should be a red flag that drastic change is needed—and fast.

Organizations owe it to their employees to not only keep them physically safe and healthy at work, but to also provide an environment where they enjoy showing up every day. This requires a laser-focused approach to ensuring that the technology in the care setting as well as clinical workflows are designed to meet the needs of both patients and their care team.

In this article, I will lean on my almost 30 years of experience in the space to share how technology and workflow solutions can be leveled up to enable caregivers to perform at the top of their license. Designing tools that increase efficiency in your day-to-day operations is closer than you think. Here are three considerations to explore.

Consideration #1: Assign Roles and Stakeholders

The first step in building the bridge from design to workflow is to bring the right players to the table. An important question to consider: what does your staff say is bogging them down? Barbara Anspach, RN,FACHE, a Dallas-based consultant, put it this way:

“The nursing shortage requires providers to make smarter use of the nurses they do have, which means enabling them to do the things they went to school for and to minimize time spent on non-nursing responsibilities.”

A great way to start the conversation about technology impacting workflow in a positive way is to bring together the critical players on your team and ask about what brings them joy at work, what causes them frustration and anything else they’re willing to share. Said another way, think about your day-to-day responsibilities and what you need from your own supervisor to make you successful. This is the lens through which you should be looking.

The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) recommends seeking out ways to offload time-intensive tasks for nurse leaders, like staffing and scheduling. They also advised putting less pressure on nursing managers to attend meetings that take up time. Whatever the issues are, having a group that meets regularly ensures the design is viable and the workflow is stable. Be sure to include non-clinical staff as well—their voice should also be heard!

“Be willing to take small bets versus waiting for evidence or research to support new initiatives.,” AONL said.

Consideration #2: Create a Clear Picture of what You’re Trying to Deliver

You can’t drive a car without a roadmap, you can’t build a house without a design plan, and you certainly can’t make technology upgrades in the care setting without a clear objective. Oftentimes, I see clients go down rabbit holes or spin their wheels unnecessarily throughout the implementation process because they failed to develop a clear objective upfront. This is costly in time and money.

After aligning your taskforce (Consideration #1), determine as a team what your Scope of Work (SoW) will be. Remember to focus on objectives that will create efficiencies and allow your team to work at the top of their license.

HHS has some good suggestions, which include:

  • Design platforms with the goal of interoperability upfront. Research shows that lack of EHR usability and interoperability leads to frustration and burnout.
  • Strengthen data integration. Automation is a great way to help nurses delegate tasks and practice at the top of their license. McKinsey & Company found that care activities could be redesigned to free up to 15% of nurses’ time.

Consideration #3: Determine your Governance Structure

Similar to assigning roles and key stakeholders, it’s important to determine who the decision makers are. Any decision or overruling will come from this group and involves a healthy mix of physicians, nurses, compliance experts, etc. Having other stakeholders at the table is fine, but it’s vital to establish from day one who the decision makers are so you are able to communicate openly and efficiently with them. These individuals don’t necessarily need to attend every meeting regarding design or workflow, but they do need to see the mockups early on for approval. They are also a valuable resource for making sure deliverables stay within the SoW.

Creating a Plan that Works for Everyone

No matter where you are in the quest to improve workflow and empower your employees, it’s important to remember that collaboration is an essential component of creating the design and workflow that you wish to see. Don’t be afraid to talk to individuals inside and outside of your organization to make a go-forward plan that everyone feels confident about. You’ll be glad you did.

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