Just like physicians, nurses can burn out. Healthcare is a highly demanding field, and sometimes nurses just hit a wall.
One of the things that can contribute to nurse burnout is health IT. Too much technology, demanding too much of a nurse's time and attention on a daily basis, can drive a nurse up the wall – especially if the tools are not designed well.
A Vocera report conducted by HIMSS Analytics, in fact, found that among 150 participating clinical and IT workers, including doctors and nurses, report that so many interruptions from alerts, alarms, pagers, phone calls and texts create stress that, in turn, fuels burnout.
That signals, at the same time, that one of the things that can help prevent nurse burnout is smart and well-designed tools that offload work from nurses, streamlining processes and generally make their lives easier.
JoAnn Lazarus, RN, a nurse and a principal who specializes in health IT at Philips Blue Jay Consulting said nurses can have a love-hate relationship with technology.
At times, it can require unwanted process changes for nurses, she explained. But health IT should support nurses' workflow, not force them to change it.
"For example, nurses want to admit their patients to the bedside monitor where they can check patient identifiers and ensure the right patient is added," she explained. "However, if a monitor is added without a keyboard, it forces nurses to go to the central monitor down the hall to enter the information, while usually carrying a patient sticker and getting interrupted a few times on the way from the patient's room to the central monitor."
With the distractions of walking through the department just to add in a patient's information, it can be very easy to enter the wrong patient, and subsequently all of the vital sign data onto the wrong patient's chart, she added.
It also can be frustrating for nurses when IT systems are implemented without measurable positive impact.
"For example, the hospital may implement new smart pumps that frequently go out of service because they have to be updated manually, when the previous smart pumps were able to be updated remotely and not delay nurses," Lazarus said. "Health IT delays can also come from needing to input the same information, whether it's patient information or information about the RN, into multiple systems because the various systems aren't interoperable."
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