It’s Time to Solve Nursing Fatigue . . . and That Starts with Your EHR Workstation
Address nursing fatigue and burnout, and the positive results will echo across your organization.
Nursing fatigue is a drain on your nurses that directly affects patient care and safety. This means that leaders who step out today to rethink their perspective on nurse health and the clinician experience are taking advantage of an opportunity — an opportunity to address myriad issues just by tackling the root causes of nursing fatigue. This is especially true for leaders who are able to look beyond the physical manifestations of nursing fatigue and burnout and recognize the non-physical signs, such as:
- Contributing causes, like long work hours or increased work intensity from outdated tech
- Warning signs, such as performance issues and reduced professional efficacy
- Emotional manifestations, including nurses’ feelings of underappreciation, resistance to change, and compassion fatigue in their performance of duties
The good news is that you have options for addressing all of these — but first, it’s important to understand just what nursing fatigue and burnout are costing you and your care community.
Nurse Burnout Flows Downstream Into the Patient Experience and Costs
To understand the potential benefits your organization can see from addressing nursing fatigue and burnout, it’s useful to look at the different ways they can manifest in clinical environments.
Quality of Patient Care
Nursing fatigue can quickly translate into consequences that negatively affect patient care. According to this American Nursing Association (ANA) position paper , this can include a decline in both short-term and working memory, a reduction in their ability to learn, and impaired mood and communication skills. The ANA states that fatigue and sleepiness can “result in harm and prevent optimal patient care”.
It also notes that fatigue is linked to performance deficits, including an increased risk of errors. This risk can potentially be exacerbated by the burden of managing outdated equipment like workstations on wheels throughout their shift.
Increased Operations Costs and Reduced Productivity
The ANA also maintains that fatigued and sleep-deprived nurses are a financial liability. They contribute to direct costs to employers through workers’ compensation, early disability, legal fees, recruitment and training, as well as an overall increase in healthcare costs.
The association also recognizes reduced productivity as a core type of fatigue. This fatigue can be exacerbated through issues such as wasted time on non-value-added activities—like searching for lost and misplaced equipment or managing battery charge levels in mobile equipment. Actions like these which don’t contribute to the patient experience create distractions in mental and physical workflows and can eventually contribute to errors.
COVID-19 Exacerbating Existing Fatigue and Burnout
Keep in mind that previous trends in nurse fatigue have only gotten worse since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses have been putting their mental health on the line every day in recent years, with many feeling underappreciated and mentally exhausted. A survey of over 1,380 nurses found that nurses are facing increased challenges from the pandemic:
- Many reported they are navigating threats to job security from volatility in hospital revenues.
- 80% of respondents reported feeling more stressed in their day-to-day work.
- 52% were dissatisfied with the resources and training from hospitals in preparing them to treat COVID-19 patients.
A Solution to Nursing Fatigue and Burnout Is Possible
Healthcare leaders who are interested in realizing the trickle-down benefits of addressing nursing fatigue will be rewarded for addressing its root causes through tech-related solutions.
Improving Nurse Workloads to Ensure Proper Sleep and Rest
Nurses are often advised to prioritize sleep to address fatigue. But this can be difficult if their work schedules aren’t designed to combat fatigue and burnout.
Being Proactive About Overwork
Overwork is a common contributor to burnout and fatigue—meaning that addressing this issue can be fundamental in supporting your nurses.
For many nursing leaders, this will start with being intentional about work schedules, monitoring consecutive days worked, and setting best practices for your staff. Make sure also to pay attention to the nature and intensity of the tasks your nurses are engaging in. For example, nurses spend up to 50% of their working hours documenting the patient record. This means you should make sure the point-of-care device they’re using isn’t adding additional strain to their work.
Consider mobile EHR workstations with service programs that ensure 100% clinical availability with asset monitoring and automated issue reporting to help reduce wasted time, anxiety, and frustration that can be stressful for nurses. Additionally, options like swappable batteries keep nurses moving, eliminating the interruptions and time wasted waiting on batteries to recharge.
Partnering With Nurses on New Initiatives
The best way to ensure that your efforts are aligned with nurses’ needs is by involving them in evaluating and implementing new technologies and plans.
Prior to making a purchasing decision, consider a Clinical Device Assessment (CDA) to assess physical workflows throughout the facility, nurse to patient ratios, and the unique needs of each clinical specialty. A comprehensive onsite CDA with an experienced equipment supplier will lead to better patient outcomes allowing nurses to focus their energy on patient care.
Looking for Creative Ways to Support Individual Nurse Efforts
Keep in mind that your nurses are already doing everything within their power to address burnout and fatigue. This likely includes seeking therapy, setting boundaries, and trying to improve sleep hygiene.
As a nursing leader, you have an opportunity to collaborate with your nurses in finding new ways to support their efforts and in adopting the workflows, technology, and workplace standards that will keep them healthy and give them everything they need to minimize fatigue and burnout.
By learning to see yourself as a partner in properly applying tech to address burnout, you can improve the nurse experience and realize the benefits described above, plus many more. To learn more about how you can be the best partner possible for your nurses, join us for an EnovateLive event!