One of the things that is a constant source of inspiration for our work is the hard work of healthcare workers. It’s something we have seen first hand from our many years engaging with those in the industry. How healthcare workers, such as nurses, manage to juggle sensitive care along with things like regulatory compliance is incredible. Anything that can be done to make their workloads easier is a great thing, and good policy management for nurses very much falls into this category. Whether you find our software fits into the best way of working for your hospital, or you find another vendor’s offering more suitable, it is important that those using the system find it makes their lives easier.
Policy Management For Nurses
Nurses are the pillars of the America’s healthcare system – they outnumber doctors six to one, spend more time with patients, and have an ever-expanding scope of practice. Their responsibilities can range from performing physical exams and administering medication, to providing patient education and writing reports. Nurses are on the frontlines, and a mistake can be the difference between life and death. The physical and emotional toll of this work can lead to a great deal of stress and eventual burnout. The right policy management for nurses can ensure that policies and procedures that guide patient care are easily accessible and nurses are properly supported.
A typical nurse works 8-12-hour shifts, during the day or night, in various settings, from hospitals and long-term care facilities to medical offices, ambulatory care centers, and community health centers. During a shift, he or she will carry out a range of activities, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Perform physical exams and collect vital signs
- Monitor, record and report patients’ conditions
- Administer medications, provide wound care and respond to patients’ immediate needs
- Prepare patients for and assist with examinations or treatments
- Provide health education to patients and families
- Direct and supervise care delivered by less skilled nurses and other healthcare personnel
This wide range of responsibilities, combined with time commitments, shift work, and long hours, can lead to an incredibly stressful work environment. A 2011 survey by the American Nurse Association (ANA) found that three out of four nurses identified effects of stress and overwork as a major health concern. Over the next 15 years, The American Journal of Medical Quality projects a significant shortage of nurses in the United States. This shortage requires nurses to work longer hours, in often-understaffed healthcare facilities, leading to physical and emotional burnout.
Stress not only affects the well-being of nurses at the individual level, but it also translates into increased risk at the organizational level. Recent studies have found a “significant association” between nurse burnout and increased infections among patients, increased medical errors, and substandard care. Burned out nurses are not optimally alert and mentally aware, which leads to these poor outcomes. In addition, burnout leads to job dissatisfaction and ultimately high turnover. This turnover can result in considerable personnel costs for healthcare organizations.
The right policy management for nurses can be important in reducing stress and eventual burnout. A policy management system can save valuable time in the policy management process that could be used for other more important tasks. For example, in a hospital that has an electronic policy management system, it takes mere seconds to search for and access a policy. In a hospital that still has a paper and binder system, it could take several minutes of flipping through binders before the policy is found. Saving time is critical for an understaffed and overworked nurse. When policies that guide patient care and are easily accessible, they will be consulted more frequently, ensuring that nurses are following proper procedures. Thus, risky situations and the likelihood of error are reduced, especially when performing complicated procedures.
The Current Healthcare Environment
In the current healthcare environment, more and more is being asked of nurses, and they are being held to higher standards of performance and accountability. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the number of people with health insurance in the United States has increased significantly. The influx of patients into the healthcare system has required an increased number of primary care providers, and nurses are filling in the gaps. It is clear that high levels of stress can have a negative impact on the well-being of the nurses themselves, the safety of patients, and the organization as a whole. It is critical that an effective policy management system is in place to ensure that policies are easily accessible to support their vital work.
There is no denying the important work nurses do and the strains they are under. Anything that can help aid their work should be a number one priority for healthcare organizations. To that end, our policy management software may be able to help, or it may be that another vendor’s software is more suitable.
If you would like to find out more how healthcare policy management software can help ease the stress nurses are under please contact us for more information. Alternatively, if you would like to see our software in action please ask for a free demonstration.