For any individual not in a healthcare-related industry, one might think that the most of a nurse’s time is spent directly with patients or reviewing information about patients. And to some extent, studies have shown that the highest percentage of time – but not a majority – is spent with direct interaction with patients. However, over the past 10 years, studies indicate that over 50% of a nurse’s time is spent in “other activities” not involving direct care of patients.
What are these “other activities”? Defining this list is unique for each hospital system, but in summary, “other activities” can be categorized within efforts that include documentation and coordinating care. Certainly, care coordination is very important, especially when patients are transitioning from the hospital after being discharged, but should nursing time be allocated to this “other activity”? And is it the best use of a nurse’s time to manage this process, call patients, document results, and continue with regular follow-up to every patient that has been discharged from the hospital?
It is reasonable to think that nurses are good resources to call patients, as they are likely most familiar with each patient’s condition. However, every minute a nurse spends on the phone or documenting results is a minute that is taken away from helping patients currently in the hospital. Furthermore, with the demands of caring for admitted patients , it is also reasonable to conclude that the process for contacting discharged patients may not be as efficient as possible if those callbacks are managed by nursing resources.
Finally, the broader question around the best use of a nurse’s time may impact overall patient satisfaction, both while in the hospital and after they leave. Patient satisfaction is VERY IMPORTANT … most of all to ensure the patient is confident about their recovery and the quality of care … and also to help the hospital avoid penalties that may be assessed due to poor performance. A robust patient discharge management program helps drive higher patient satisfaction. But a robust program may be better managed by resources that do not take away from a nurse’s time that should be focused on caring for patients currently in the hospital.
What is the best use of a nurse’s time in your hospital system? If most of their time is spent on something other than direct patient interaction and care, then maybe it’s time to consider other options. Contact PREMEDEXtoday to learn our approach to helping your nursing team allocate their time … and care for patients … better. Click here to contact us.