At a recent Advisory Board session on nurse manager overload and the contributing factors that lead to nurse burnout, it was acknowledged this problem is an issue that affects both staff and patients.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, burnout is emotional exhaustion that results in depersonalization and decreased personal accomplishment at work. A recent article states that 70 percent of nurses report burnout in their current positions; needless to say, that’s a high percentage that seems to keep growing. Factors include stress, time crunches and workflow challenges, to name a few. Ultimately, burnout can put a patient's safety at risk.

With all the mandates required by the government, nurses can end up spending a painstaking amount of time on reporting all the required measures and metrics. And in order to get the metrics, you have to document. In addition to reporting to the government, nurses also have to capture this information to get quality outcomes for which organizations are looking.

Bloomberg photo

Clinicians don't document metrics purely for the sake of documenting metrics. And if clinicians don't document, does it mean that it didn't happen? Documentation should provide more than just a means of recording observations. There has to be value added or the insurmountable balance can contribute to nurse burnout.

Here are some technology tools that can help prevent nurses from succumbing to burnout.

Surveillance
A surveillance tool works in the background of an EHR and provides real-time, meaningful information to evaluate and interpret whether patients meet the criteria for sepsis, chronic heart failure, pneumonia or any other condition, as well as fulfill core measures.

Surveillance takes all the live, actionable, real-time data that has been captured 24/7 and pushes it back to clinicians as an early warning system, enabling them to quickly identify patients that may be trending toward a bad outcome. This tool is a real asset for nurses, helping them to take advantage of the data collected as part of their normal workflow, so they can intervene earlier in the patient’s journey.

Status boards
Real-time tracking boards can help nurses to prioritize care and manage patient populations. Software with evidence-based rules will search the clinical and demographic data in an HER on an ongoing basis. Any patients who meet profile criteria will automatically populate these boards, indicating when quality measures are due, or if the patient is showing signs of a potential hospital-acquired infection, saving critical time in care delivery.

These boards give nurses the power to manage their patients. They see everything that they need to do for the patient, can sort tasks by time, and can also highlight the normals and abnormals. The board lets them know which patients have met a certain criteria and more importantly, why they met that criteria.

Watchlists
A watchlist can provide real-time accurate information to help identify the most vulnerable patients, by itemizing every profile patients meet and their qualifying criteria. Look for a solution that will compile information (fall risk, restraints, CAUTI, sepsis and so on) and deliver it electronically, in real-time rather than on a printed report. This will help clinicians focus more on patient safety and ensure higher-quality care.

Data analytics
Organizations should employ analytics that help analyzes your clinical, financial and operational data to help organizations increase efficiency, measure progress and improve performance. Specialized dashboards enable nurse managers, CNOs, CMOs and other executives to do things such as track readmissions, hospital-acquired conditions, level of service analysis and more. Managers will be able to see if one unit is performing better than another unit and why, instead of having to make a blanket statement about the whole organization.

A solution with customizable dashboards enables executives to analyze an organization's data in meaningful ways, while identifying performance drivers and areas for improvement. Being able to analyze your data at this granular a level will help them improve patient outcomes, review benchmarks and more.

Toolkits
Organizations should secure a solution that includes toolkits with evidence-based content and workflows built directly into the EHR. These toolkits should include optimal workflows, standard content, educational webinars and other supplemental materials to help the organization improve outcomes, save time and conserve resources.

No one has time to hunt for data, and no one wants their workday to be hampered by unnecessary processes. Implementing these tools and resources will give nurses more time to do what the7y do best: care for patients.

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Cathy Turner, MBA, RN-BC

Cathy Turner, MBA, RN-BC

Cathy Turner, MBA, RN-BC, is an associate vice president of MEDITECH.