14 December, 2018

A calm work environment and good patient service



Here’s why those two things don’t need to be opposites at the healthcare center:

During the last few years there’s been a remarkable change within the nurse profession. Nurses have gotten new tasks to do besides the purely care related ones. An example of this is the medical consultations that they do over the phone or even digitally. As a manager it is your job to make sure that your staff has the best possible work conditions to do their job. How do you create this type of work environment for the nurses? 

The demands on staff within the healthcare sector are constantly increasing as the digital development progresses. Patients are expecting a high availability to their healthcare services while politicians are expecting cost efficiency.  In the healthcare centers within the primary care sector many nurses are still spending a lot of their time talking to patients on the phone. Often in a work environment that isn’t best suited for such communication. In this blog post we want to give you, as a unit manager, an insight into their situation.This will help you choose the correct path forward in terms of improving their work environment, while also improving the quality of their communication with patients.

Under pressure

A lot of the time, the nurse is sat in the same room as other nurses making their own phone calls. It might even be the case that the phone consultation is taking place in a reception area where the nurses also meet patients in person. It can make it hard for the nurse to give the patient on the phone the full attention needed. With all these things considered, it’s not a surprise that misunderstandings may occur.

Of course there are also advantages to being located near other nurses or other healthcare staff. It makes it easier to take in second opinions when giving advice to the patient over the phone. But, a work environment where other things are always demanding attention can be very stressful and may lead to the patient not getting what they need from the conversation. Another thing that adds to the pressure when the nurse is on the phone, is when there’s a long line of phone calls still waiting to be answered. This pressure can lead to misunderstandings of what the patient’s health issue actually entails. Such misunderstandings could cause serious damage if the nurse gives the wrong advise.

High demands on availability

With the emergence of net doctors in the healthcare sector the pace of digitalization has increased. It’s also lead to patients making demands for higher availability to their healthcare services. When most things in life are just a button push away on your smart-phone, the long waiting times for a doctor’s appointment don’t feel reasonable anymore. A big advantage of the digital development that’s currently taking place in society are all the new tools that can be used to improve the work environment for healthcare staff. AI solutions can help direct patients to the right level of healthcare assistance needed. Video solutions help create more possible forums for healthcare consultation. The ability to use post-tags in Aurora teleQ is another thing that helps improve things for the nurses working in the system. They can tag the call afterwards so that it will be easier to follow up. This way they might learn that a lot of the calls could actually be answered by someone without medical skills. If such a thing is discovered maybe they could transfer the calls to such a person instead, thereby decreasing the work load.

Choose tools that help

In the rapid digitalisation process taking place everywhere it’s important to not forget the work environment of the healthcare staff as well as their specific needs. The most important thing for healthcare staff is that new digital tools should be an aid, not a hinder. IT systems that don’t work cause more administrative work to be put on already pressured nurses. This leads to higher stress levels. This impacts the work environment negatively at the healthcare center. The number one job for any healthcare staff is to help the patient. Your number one job as the manager is to give them the best possible conditions to do that. As with most things it’s beneficial to start with what you’ve got. What systems are you using today? What does your process look like for medical consultations over the phone?  There might be possibilities that you haven’t explored yet in the tools and systems you’re already using. Digitalisation is the key to a better work environment for the nurses. The only thing needed to get started is a creative mindset, combined with smooth integrations between existing systems and other smart digital tools.

Conclusion

As a manager of a healthcare unit, it’s your job to make sure your staff has the best possible work conditions so they can meet the needs of the patients. Nurses or other healthcare staff that have phone calls with patients as a part of their work tasks face a lot of obstacles in their work environment. By using the possibilities of digitalisation and choosing the right tools you can make the situation a lot easier and better for them.