Amplifying nurses’ voices in healthcare innovation and leadership

Crucial perspectives of front-line nurses are gaining increased influence and visibility at major conferences, as well as technology development.

The lead-up to ViVE, coming up February 25 to 28 in Los Angeles, is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge welcomed changes in the industry. Major conferences like ViVE are giving nurses a stronger voice, reflecting the value the nursing perspective brings to the table to positively influence better patient care and outcomes in the U.S.

For 22 years running, nurses have held the top spot as the most trusted profession. In this year’s Gallup poll, 78 percent of Americans who participated stated that nurses adhere to "very high" or "high" standards for honesty and ethics.

Nursing is also the largest healthcare profession. More than 4 million registered nurses work in the U.S., more than any other kind of health professional, and 90 percent of them are women. Yet historically, the female presence in the C-suite is disproportionately small. Of the 41 health-sector companies on the 2022 Fortune 500 list, only five had female CEOs.

The good news is that it’s changing. A recent Fox News Digital article included my opinion on this matter: "In the past, nurses did not have influence to match that level of trust. I see trends to show this is changing. Many of the IT-focused health care conferences are adding a nursing track for the first time in 2024. There are more and more nurses like myself who sit on the senior leadership team of technology companies to be sure the voices of nurses and patients are heard as technology is being designed."

Elevating the nursing point of view

A very visible sign of change is the expansion of educational tracks at conferences like ViVE to focus on nursing. Healthcare conferences are invaluable, providing the opportunity to participate in educational sessions, explore a wide range of solutions and services, and network with colleagues. It’s encouraging to see the leadership for these conferences taking note of the important expertise and perspective nurses bring to the table, especially as advocates for a holistic view of the patient.

For instance, the ViVE nurses track will focus on bringing forward the work of “nurse leaders advancing delivery system innovation and driving organizational change to further patient and community engagement.” Also added is the patients track, which will seek to “give patients and patient advocates an influential seat at the table.” Nurses will be an integral part of both focus areas, contributing their experience to improve care delivery for nurses and patients alike. For example, sessions shine a light on care model innovations at leading provider organizations, such as virtual nursing, that improve patient care and safety while reducing the burden on nurses and the impact of labor shortages.

The other important note about industry conferences is that after everything shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, people now see more clearly the added value of attending conferences in person. All the informal, spontaneous interactions are so powerful. Add to that the ability to review, research and evaluate a wide range of solutions in one place – better equipping leaders to future-proof their investment strategies.

Actively enlisting nurses to drive change

For hospitals, nurses make up the largest employee group, caring for patients around the clock across the full range of care settings. However, while nurses may be the most trusted, historically, they have not always embraced or led change. That is also changing.

Numerous times in the past, technology solutions intended to be used by nurses did not include their input in the design or implementation, leading to failures in adoption and effectiveness. Especially when it comes to technology meant to improve patient care and staff efficiency, more organizations are now actively involving nurses. And more nurses are moving into leadership and C-suite roles. Their expertise is critical to ensuring technology advances a holistic view of patient care and supports, rather than hinders, the day-to-day work of nurses.

Industry conferences support these efforts in numerous ways. Not only do healthcare provider organizations have the opportunity to evaluate solutions, but those solution providers have the opportunity to actively listen to their customers and the market. Technology organizations don’t want to be a “hammer looking for a nail” – instead, the data and information gathered at conferences further supports the vital focus on solving real problems for the customers they serve.

Looking forward

So many positive signs across the industry, from expanding industry conference agendas to more nurses in the C-suite for technology companies as well as providers, show the growing influence of nurses. To truly deliver on the promise for technology to enable holistic patient care and high-quality outcomes, relying upon the leadership and influence of nurses will pay off in dramatic ways.

Lisbeth Votruba, MSN, RN is the chief clinical officer of AvaSure, an intelligent virtual care platform that deploys AI-powered virtual sitting and virtual nursing solutions, which has been recognized by KLAS Research as a top solution for reducing the cost of care. With 15 percent of its team trained as nurses, AvaSure is a trusted partner of more than 1,100 hospitals.

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