This blog post excerpts an article in the Spring 2015 issue of HealthStream's PX Advisor, our quarterly magazine designed to bring you thought leadership and best practices for improving the patient experience.
Groundbreaking advancements in medical technology have revolutionized the dynamics of patient care. The burden of keeping up with these advancements, and the opportunity to improve patient care by using them, rests primarily on nurses. Exposing nurses to a range of medical technologies in order to create a solid foundation of understanding early in their careers creates nurses who are more confident, efficient, and productive as they engage in patient care. This begins during the onboarding process by thoughtfully introducing the technologies used in their new work environment—from software systems, such as electronic health records (EHRs), to hardware-focused solutions like automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs), and familiar but increasingly technical assets like patient beds.
As healthcare systems implement technology to optimize workflows and improve patient care, they should also consider the disruptive effect it has on employees. According to an article in The Journal of Clinical Nurses, nurses feel that technology “increases personal stress, decreases autonomy and increases administrative time.” One study reported, “Medical device use causes more than 75% of nurses to feel stressed.” Emotional distress related to patient care is often cited as a key reason for nurse turnover. The financial impact of losing one nurse is equivalent to about twice a nurse’s annual salary and an average hospital loses nearly “$300,000 per year for each percentage increase in annual nurse turnover.” Retaining competent and confident nurses is critical to improved patient care and the fiscal viability of a healthcare system.
Mastering competencies in medical technologies can help reduce nurse stress, but new graduates’ first exposure to some technology may not take place until their first day on the job. Seasoned nurses transferring into different service environments may also need to be trained on technology specific to their new role. In both cases, without a formalized training program, these nurses may rely on coworkers for assistance. For many nurses, an initial technology learning experience can be based on reading the user manual and “trial and error.” More than 87% of nurses admitted to asking coworkers for help in using technology due to the lack of proper knowledge on device use. This creates a multiplying effect that interrupts patient care twice—first because a nurse needs to stop and get help with operating a medical device, and then a second time for the colleague who must stop to help. These interruptions can be detrimental to patient care quality. The more interruptions nurses receive in the clinical environment, the greater number of errors that occur. Fostering an environment of technical education and safety from day one creates confident, knowledgeable nurses who can balance technology and patient care with minimal interruptions and errors.
Developing a technology training program as part of your onboarding will help you ensure the competency and performance of your workforce, and it provides your new employees with the resources they need to deliver the best care. This article focuses on how to effectively conduct a needs assessment that will result in a solid foundation for your product training program.
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