Back

February 1, 2024 | 6 minute

The Complexity of Nursing: Unlocking High-Impact, Low-Cost Solutions to Support and Empower Nurses

Nurses in a strategy meeting

Take a deep dive into the top concerns of the nursing profession with Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Nursing Officer at Kontakt.io, Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, and a nurse with over 35 years of experience. Dr. Collins discusses low-cost and high-impact solutions to improve the working environment for nurses, deliver better care to patients, and improve operational procedures. Covered highlights include:

  • The vital role of the nurse
  • The complex working environment
  • The cost of inefficiencies and errors
  • Technology-based solutions to reduce confusion, complicity, and chaos in the nursing environment.

Gallup Poll lists nursing as the most trusted profession for the 22nd year in a row. This is a testament to nurses’ ability to maintain standards of practice and standards of care in a complex environment. Yet burnout, staffing shortages, and unsafe work environments are causing increasing numbers of nurses to leave the profession, spurring a need for fast and effective solutions that address the root causes of these issues.

Defining Nursing Work

Policymakers and the general public share a misunderstanding of what nursing work entails. Most believe that caring is the sole purpose and responsibility of a nurse, yet this viewpoint is simplistic and devalues the education, training, and competence of nurses.

Caring is typically defined as essential tasks like delivering food. The current complex, financially constrained healthcare environment also frequently demands that nurses spend nearly 75% of their time on administrative tasks, like coordinating care between departments, instead of providing the safe and high-quality care that is their responsibility.

During a single shift, the average nurse is responsible for 5 to 7 patients, gets interrupted 3.4 times each hour, and has 10 or more alerts or tasks waiting for completion. Nurses also walk up to 4 miles and spend 40 minutes per shift searching for essential supplies.

Why Are Nurses Leaving the Profession?

Nurses are leaving the profession in unprecedented numbers due to:

  • Burnout from high workloads
  • Staffing shortages
  • Pre and post-pandemic impacts
  • Unsafe work environments
  • Poor compensation

Declining numbers of support staff is another contributing factor to nurses quitting their jobs. Support staff provides essential care that allows nurses to perform the duties that require them to be licensed, educated, and trained. These workplace issues lead to lower-quality care and the risk of costly mistakes. Nurses must have a voice to create meaningful change. The current situation demands that they step up with their opinions and get involved in decision-making.

The Cost of Complex Nurse Work Environments

Nurses face an increased cognitive load with constant interruptions during their shifts. Each distraction from the task at hand takes a nurse 18 to 22 minutes to recover and return to their previous thinking process.

This mental overload and level of distraction can cause medication errors costing $77 billion per year, and another $40 billion per year in costs to care for patients affected by a medication-associated error. Also, attrition rates cost $5.2 to $9 million per year to hire, rehire, and train nursing staff. The cost of maintaining current management practices is unsustainable and continues to drive the cost of services higher.

Along with the financial costs are the mental and physical consequences of current practices. One in four nurses experiences harm in the workplace environment, and one in four patients admitted to the hospital also experiences harm. Workplace violence is an epidemic, and nurses need access to immediate assistance when in potential danger since damage can be done in seconds.

Focus on Improving the Environment and Optimizing Care Operations

When asked why they left the nursing profession, nurses cite poor leadership, not enough staff and support, and an unsafe and difficult working environment. Kontakt.io focuses on providing technological solutions that address the issues with the environment, starting with two main problems:

  • Medical Equipment Utilization: Low utilization of mobile medical equipment and lost equipment leads to overspending and waste. Equipment tracking can save $3.5 million per year for a 200-bed hospital.
  • Staff Activity & Workplace Violence: Nurses spend a significant portion of their shift locating equipment that pulls them away from their patients. Plus, the high assault rates affecting every fourth nurse contribute to one-third wishing to quit their jobs. Implementing changes for better tracking and safety can save $3.2 million per year for a 200-bed hospital.

A single solution implementing facility-wide technological innovations can optimize equipment management, improve staff safety, and elevate patient experiences, all while saving the facility money.

Roadmap of AI Products from Kontakt.io

Kontakt.io’s suite of applications is ready-made, resulting in ROI on the very first day of use. Some problems solved by AI products that grade the inpatient journey end to end include:

  • Bottleneck radar: Helps to identify the source of the problem causing so many patient and staff complaints
  • Capacity modeling: Using AI, RTLS signals, and clinical path, focusing on beds
  • Orchestration APIs: More efficient scheduling for transport, radiology, and OR
  • Patient Experiences: Address delays and wait times in real-time

Implementing AI allows you to uncover hidden waste, streamline capacity, and improve workflows ahead of time.

Optimize Operations Along the Inpatient Journey

The Kontakt.io platform solves problems while paving the path to optimize all operations along the inpatient journey.

Recommended Application Roadmap

First, start with entry use cases:

  • Medical equipment management: Improve asset utilization, reduce search time, and reduce rental and new equipment purchases by providing an asset visibility solution to save $17k per bed.
  • Mobile staff duress solution: Reduce severe safety incidents and improve incident response time through a portable staff duress solution.

Once health systems have established a foundation to solve these use cases, they can add more applications to their digital transformation roadmap with the same platform and create value each step of the way, such as:

  • Staff workflows: Improve workflow and facility design by understanding patient time and paths.
  • Hand hygiene: Preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAI) through hand hygiene protocols.
  • Patient elopement: Mobile patient and visitor wayfinding to reduce the number of late appointments.
  • Patient journey: Improve patient flow and the discharge processes.

It’s best to start with the most pressing problem of keeping staff safe and then move on to other issues. Kontakt.io provides a single low-cost solution to address the above points, improve safety, and allow nurses to focus on their jobs, making for a better work environment.