There is a worrying trend in Malaysia that’s giving the government and healthcare authorities sleepless nights. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Malaysia would need 130,000 nurses in all specializations by this year. The recommended patient-nurse ratio is 1:200. However, with less than 3,000 nurses graduating every year and many nursing courses shutting down, Malaysia is staring at a potential shortage of nurses in the future.

This is causing undue stress on nurses requiring them to work for long hours, which leads to a high attrition rate. It also has a direct impact on patient care, administration, and clinical data management. While the hospitals and government have been getting nurses from other countries to bridge the gap, the shortage of nurses is still a cause of worry for the hospitals.

So, how can hospitals address this challenge?

One way is by using technology to simplify the duties of nurses.

Let’s look at it.

Five ways technology can help nurses become more effective

We believe now is the right time to leverage technology to make nursing management more effective. On the one hand, there are healthcare technologies such as telemedicine, the Internet of Things (IoT), and AI enabling hospitals to provide better care to patients. On the other, Malaysia is already a digital economy and is preparing itself to rollout 5G. This should encourage hospitals to embrace technology more proactively.

Technology innovations enable nurses to provide better care and relieve them from doing repetitive tasks. Some of the areas where technology can help include:

Clinical Data Management

Do you know that maintaining paper records are one of the most common types of data breaches in hospitals? According to a study, paper records account for 65% of the hospital data breach. It is also tedious for nurses as they have to manage the records of multiple patients and update them every time there is an update on the patient’s health. A slight lapse in maintaining the record could lead to incorrect diagnosis or treatment and can be risky for the patient.

Digitizing the health records not just secures the medical data, but it also saves the nurses’ time in scouting for records amidst multiple files and updating patient data in real-time. Overall, it improves the accuracy and speed of managing enormous patient data. From tracking the patients’ medical history to recording their previous visit details and creating a detailed case sheet, electronic health records (EHR) can reduce the burden of the nurses.

Continuous Monitoring

Thanks to wearable devices and portable monitoring technologies, nurses can monitor their patients’ progress from anywhere without it being too intimidating for the patient. By tracking the vitals such as heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, etc. regularly, nurses can provide a more accurate update to the doctors about the patient’s health. It also reduces the scope of error as the constant monitoring offers historical data of the patient’s status. It helps the doctors to identify the problems faster and provide them timely treatment.

Inventory Management

Apart from managing the patients, the nurses’ responsibility also includes keeping track of the inventory. This would involve keeping track of purchase order, alerting the procurement staff about the stock, maintaining the stock, and keeping a record of goods/material receipt of rejected or reordered items. Managing the inventory can be a Herculean task. Nurses have to follow a specific procedure to ensure that they maintain the stock regularly. A haphazard way of keeping the inventory could lead to a shortage of supply and even endanger the lives of the patients. IoT-enabled asset management can help nurses to update the information in real-time. It can also help them keep track of the stock to alert the procurement team to replenish the expired or empty goods or material.

Reduce Errors

Human errors can have enormous repercussions on patients. A small lapse can lead to catastrophic outcomes for the patient. However, given the number of tasks that nurses have to complete, errors are easy to percolate in the process. To reduce this, nurses should be empowered with technology to streamline the processes.

For example, instead of coordinating with multiple people to book an operation theater, smart hospitals use communication and collaboration systems that allow nurses to reserve it, intimate the doctors and the patient’s relatives about the schedule, and arrange for equipment and supplies required for the operation.

Similarly, instead of following up with lab assistants for reports, they can get real-time access to the patient’s reports and even automate the entire process – right from collecting the blood samples to providing the reports to the doctor for further investigation.

Better Patient Care

Hospital treatments have become more clinical and less humanized. In a bid to provide the best possible treatment to the patient, nurses are unable to extend empathetic support to the patient. By using technology, nurses can take care of clinical processes such as scheduling doctor’s visits, managing inpatient and outpatient visits, coordination with doctors for emergency visits, and much more. This can give them more time to spend with the patient, keep track of their problems, and offer timely help to them.

Technology can undoubtedly simplify the processes of patient care for nurses. However, to make this happen, nurses have to be trained in using technology in the right way. Hospitals need to work closely with the nurses to understand their pain points and develop technology, which they can easily use without intensive training. There also has to be a framework designed to enable the nurses to streamline the processes and provide more human-centric care to the patients.

At SD Global, we help hospitals set up nursing management frameworks to simplify the tasks of the nurses. With the combination of technology and an effective framework, we believe nurses can bring back the culture of human-centric patient care in hospitals.