Shift Optimization: 5 Tips on How to Improve Nursing Workflow

Talking about the nursing workflow, even before the recent coronavirus pandemic, today’s nurses were reporting unprecedented levels of burnout. The past two years have only exacerbated those problems, as the emotional toll of watching so many people suffer was added to even longer shifts and more stressful work environments. Streamlining clinical workflows is a great way to take some of the stress off of overworked nurses by reducing busy work and unnecessary burdens.

Provide High-Quality Equipment

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to provide efficient and effective patient care without access to high-quality equipment. Investing in mobile workstations, providing sufficient PPE and commonly used disposables, and ensuring that every nurse has access to what he or she needs to care for patients are some of the key ways to Improve Nursing Workflow. Nurses should never have to waste time searching for crucial equipment or waiting for other care providers to finish using a machine that shouldn’t need to be shared.

Eliminate Non-Clinical Tasks

Even in the best hospitals, it has become commonplace for nurses to take on non-clinical tasks to help provide better patient care and ensure their units run smoothly. It may seem like no big deal to replace batteries in a monitoring device, track down a patient’s meal if it doesn’t come on time, or deal with the many other minor issues that come up over the course of a day. However, these non-clinical tasks take up time and create breakdowns in nursing workflows.

Eliminating extra tasks by implementing a clinical communication platform that directs different types of alerts to the staff members most suited to handling them is a great way to reduce the burden on overworked nurses. Send the low battery alert to a technician and have a member of the cafeteria staff bring up that lost meal. It will make a difference.

Prioritize Alerts

Nurses always have long lists of things to do. There are always patients that need care, data to enter, like a nursing report sheet, or a colleague requesting information for collaboration. And while most of these tasks cannot be eliminated, they can be prioritized.

The ability to differentiate between urgent issues that need immediate attention and those that can be put off until a nurse is finished attending to another patient can be very helpful. Clinical communication platforms make it easier to differentiate alerts based on urgency and prioritize needs.

Connect Clinical Systems

Most nurses interact with dozens of clinical systems each day, including everything from patient monitoring devices to nurse call systems. In thoroughly modernized hospitals, all of these disparate systems are integrated. However, many facilities have not yet caught up. Connecting clinical information systems makes it easier to streamline workflows by ensuring that every alert and piece of information gets to where it needs to go without interrupting everyone else.

Build Visibility

Building visibility into the nursing workflow is a great way to empower teams and allow them to find new ways to improve on current standards. Since all of these workflow improvements are intended to help nurses, they’re the right people to ask when administrators are trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Get the Process Started Now

It takes time to figure out what works and what doesn’t in a clinical setting. Since improvements to the nursing workflow don’t occur overnight, the best time to start implementing them is now. Begin with simple steps like providing better equipment, then move on to more complex tasks like integrating clinical systems, and don’t forget to ask for input along the way.