Nurses, and the care they provide, are a critical component of any quality healthcare organization. But what happens when the hospitals, senior living facilities, and other organizations that employ these nurses begin to lean on them too hard, overburdening them?
The nurses leave in droves, increasing vacancy rates and the cost of recruitment all at once.
Consider a study from the RN Work Project that cites that healthcare organizations spend up to $88,000 on average to replace a single RN. Further, a study by NSI Solutions estimates that total RN turnover costs organizations up to $8.1 million per year .
Addressing nursing turnover within an overburdened workforce requires a staffing plan that includes more nurses on unit and supportive working conditions that not only appeal to nurses, but also contribute to helping the organization’s bottom line by increasing retention and decreasing vacancy rates.
Nursing compliance, while necessary, is one area where organizations can make changes to improve upon time wasted and money spent. Compliance testing is one of those unavoidable and mandatory practices that unfortunately eats into care responsibilities and adds to the heavy workload every nurse is expected to carry.
Here are four ways healthcare organizations can overcome common barriers as they relate to nursing compliance.
Make Nurses’ Lives Easier by Ditching the Pen and Paper
Many nurses love their jobs because of the time spent caring for patients — something that is becoming more and more difficult with everything nurses are now expected to do. A typical nurse works a 12-hour shift and is doing multiple people’s jobs. Studies show that, as a nurse’s workload increases, nurse burnout and job dissatisfaction also increase. What many nurses really want is the ability to focus on caring for patients without having to jump through administrative hoops.
One way leading healthcare organizations have significantly cut down on some of those hoops and barriers associated with nursing compliance is by going digital and cutting down the time associated with compliance regulations testing. Many hospitals and healthcare centers are ditching the pen and paper, eliminating the need to photocopy and prepare paper packets for distribution and then having to grade those tests by hand. This can reduce the time spent preparing for the rollout of nursing compliance education and testing from days to hours.
Some leading organizations are even going as far as to invest in courseware that includes innovative features like accelerated learning paths, such as the Minute Mandatories℠ featured in the HealthcareSource Compliance Series. These accelerated learning paths highlight new regulations, reinforce routine guidelines, and can typically be completed in as few as six minutes – making them great for experienced employees who want to get back on the floor as quickly as possible.
Engage and Automate to Simplify Nursing Management
Mandatory compliance training often generates a sense of dread among employees. Much of the content in nursing compliance training doesn’t change from year to year, so capturing employees’ attention and keeping them interested can be a challenge. No one likes courses that are simply a series of PowerPoint presentations or static PDF files. By using interactive and engaging content, you are more likely to provide a positive learning experience that results in higher levels of knowledge retention.
When you give nurses flexibility and greater control over when they take compliance courses, it generates greater ownership and accountability among the workforce, creating an environment where employees are more likely to complete their education requirements accurately and on time.
Automating and tracking participation digitally it can also be helpful when it comes to audits or surveys by The Joint Commission or other regulatory groups. The right software will make handing over all that important data at a moment’s notice simple and painless.
Alleviate Financial Burdens by Outsourcing Education
According to a recent study in which Allnurses.com polled 1,500 nursing professionals, one third of respondents say short staffing has lead them to leave the bedside and, ultimately, the profession. As many in healthcare know, short staffing is often not a management issue, but a budgeting issue.
But tight budgets don’t need to equal low patient-staff ratios. Rather than cut much-needed staff, some healthcare companies are saving money in their budget by outsourcing and automating their nursing compliance testing.
According to Aaron Thomas, Operations Manager, Learning Content for HealthcareSource, “By leveraging the HealthcareSource Compliance Series, a client of ours was able to eliminate more than 1,300 hours’ worth of work that would have been spent creating these kinds of educational modules in-house. All in all, this amounted to a savings of more than $190,000 per year.”
Create Better Experiences for Patients by Streamlining Compliance Testing
Each time a nurse is taken off the floor for any reason, that is time spent away from their patient-care responsibilities. Streamlined, digital testing is one way to get nurses back on the floor faster, where they can provide the best possible care.
According to the Aiken study, fewer RNs in California, where there are mandated staffing ratios, missed changes in patient conditions because of their decreased workload when compared to RNs in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, where there aren’t. If all hospitals could save money in other areas of their budget, like training and compliance testing, and hire more staff to lower the nurse-patient ratio, it could save thousands of lives every year. According to the study, if California’s 1:5 ratios on surgical units were matched, New Jersey hospitals would have had 14 percent fewer patient deaths, and Pennsylvania would have seen an 11 percent decrease.
New research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing shows an association between good practice environments and readmission rates that CMS tracks and penalizes hospitals who are non-compliant. CMS estimates those penalties will cost hospitals $280 million this year and $25.7 billion over the course of the next decade. Learning and development professionals can get ahead of some of these penalties by easily evaluating curriculum assessments and completion reports to monitor which employees are adequately trained. When management can be on top of these life-threatening training deficiencies, patients unknowingly get the added benefit of having nurses who are better trained, which can lower patients’ chances of readmission.
How a Learning Management System Can Help
As it becomes more difficult to hire nurses in the face of a growing shortage (expected to grow to 1.2 million nurses by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) the ability to lower the burden around compliance training and testing will be key to an organization’s success. And a learning management system can be a key part of that equation.
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