At the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) conference last week, one nursing leader said, “Mobile technology is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a ‘need to have.’”
That pretty neatly summed up what I heard from AONE attendees throughout the three days I spent in Indianapolis. Hospital executives and nursing leaders understand that today’s nurses need to be mobile to perform their duties efficiently and improve the patient experience. And it’s not only patients who benefit from mobile technologies such as smartphones. When nurses have the tools they need to perform their jobs well, the clinical experience also improves.
That’s a major “need to have” as the healthcare industry faces a critical nursing shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1.2 million vacancies for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022, largely due to the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. Many of the leaders I spoke with last week mentioned the importance of nurse retention, and made the connection between staff engagement and up-to-date technologies. It seems every hospital is working toward that trifecta of satisfaction: An engaged staff plus engaged physicians equals a better patient experience.
To engage our newest generation of nurses, we have to recognize that Millennials don’t remember a world without smartphones. They grew up sending text messages and gathering information on their phones, and they demand that same convenience in the workplace. When I walk the floors of a hospital that hasn’t yet upgraded to smartphones, the nurses might be carrying legacy phones for communication, but in reality, they are often using their personal smartphones to text their co-workers and refer to medical apps.
Healthcare has caught up with the rest of the world in having an app for just about everything. Apps for nurse rounding, medical dictionaries, drug guides and patient communication require a secure smartphone platform with policies and procedures established by each healthcare organization. A huge selection of medical apps now enable nurses to do barcode scanning, take a light set of vitals, and enter data in the electronic medical record (EMR), all without tracking down a workstation on wheels (WOW) or sitting down at a desk. As a nurse, I remember pushing around a heavy WOW, so I know how powerful it is to do a lot of that work on a Voalte smartphone in your pocket.
At past AONE conferences, many nursing leaders I spoke with weren’t quite ready for mobile communication technologies. Now, I’m seeing a shift as IT and clinical leaders work together to implement smartphone solutions they see as crucial to engaging and retaining staff, improving clinical workflow processes, and ultimately ensuring the high quality of patient care. If you’d like to consider the possible benefits of smartphones in your hospital, please contact me to discuss how Voalte can help.
Dana Peco, MSN, BSN, CCRN, is Clinical Solutions Specialist at Voalte.