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David Slifka, Senior Director, Commercial Engagement & Strategy

There is exciting discourse these days about digital health tools and their role in improving patient care and bottom lines. However, one group of healthcare professionals is conspicuously absent from the conversation: nurses.

We must change that. RNs need a seat at the table for your digital health strategy to be transformative and successful.

While we are on the backside of the COVID-19 pandemic and patient volumes have normalized, care providers are not out of the woods. A recent report indicated that hospitals average 100% turnover every five years. Additionally, the average hospital loses $5.2 to $9 million annually on RN turnover.

Two critical parts of any successful digital health initiative are a solid governance structure and a strong working relationship between clinical, operational, and IT stakeholders. By incorporating

RN insights and concerns, you can pave the way for optimal clinician and patient as well as the most significant outcome, digital health ROI.

Overcoming obstacles to digital health integration

Nurses tend to follow the path of least resistance to deliver high-quality patient care. That’s not a diss; instead, it’s a testament to their calling and values. What this means is that your health system’s digital tools must be integrated effectively and seamlessly into their workflows lest these solutions compound RN burnout.

There is a greater need for nurses in acute care environments and ambulatory settings than the number of nurses available to fill those roles. The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services projects that RN demand will exceed 3.6 million by 2030. Couple this overextension with the overwhelming number of digital health assets on the market, and the reasons for RN frustration and hesitancy toward adoption become self-evident. While developed with the best intentions, some digital tools fail to deliver and add value.

Let’s consider an industry that made significant digital strides in the last 15 years: airlines. Manual processes led to costly errors and traveler dissatisfaction. Fundamental advances such as online ticket purchasing, mobile boarding passes, and digital refueling processes have transformed a business where every second counts.

In healthcare, while the patient experience may improve with the use of digital tools, that doesn’t always translate into a more seamless clinician experience. Repeatable and scalable processes are needed to bring new technologies into their workflow. Again, this begins with a solid governance structure and a cross-communicating clinical-ops-IT triad. Systems that have replicated this model successfully are poised to lead the digital future of healthcare.

Governance: The foundation of success

For our client, Scripps Health, an effective governance structure for the implementation of Babyscripts drove amazing ROI.

Their governance team is trained intensely in digital integration, namely what the tools can and cannot do and the primary decision points. Measures of success are created and evaluated on an ongoing basis to demonstrate effectiveness.

Here’s what they monitor:

  • Automated vs. manual orders
  • Actual vs. expected orders / enrollments
  • Number of patients recruited and enrolled for a specific use case; try to have benchmarks from similar use cases
  • Calculate conversion rate
  • If enrolled in an ongoing program, how many are active users?
  • Qualitative information from surveying operational leaders
  • Pre- and post-analysis

Working through their’ governance structure, Xealth integrated the maternal app into the clinical workflow. Pre- and post-analysis of implementation showed that switching from a manual to an automated workflow resulted in a460% increase in enrollment.

Now, that’s the sort of proven effectiveness nurses can get behind.

Trends we’ll see in 2023

You don’t need a crystal ball to see the writing on the wall. These considerations will continue for years to come.

  • Health equity: What began as a buzzword in healthcare circles is now a full-fledged operational imperative. Let it also be noted that digital health providers and vendors are responsible for leveling the playing fields. If your digital health strategy isn’t measurably impacting access to care among underserved communities, it’s missing the mark.
  • Virtual care strategies: The years 2020 through 2022 were a proving ground for remote patient monitoring, telehealth, and virtual health. These have a demonstrable ROI.
  • Interoperability and integration into the clinical workflow: Fast forward to 2023, as many health systems retrospectively evaluate their digital health investments over the last several years. The litmus test is what digital tools have been integrated successfully into clinical workflow and what ones haven’t.

Nursing shortages and other front-line staffing challenges aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Practical digital tools must integrate into workflows immediately. That starts with an intentional governance structure dedicated to digital strategy and cohesive working relationships between all stakeholders, especially those who represent the heart of healthcare, nurses

The Xealth platform connects disparate digital health solutions and embeds them directly into clinical workflow, maximizing investment in patients and staff while improving patient experiences.

Are you ready to implement digital solutions that work for your nurses and patients? Schedule your demo today!

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