The NHS nursing shortage could spell disaster for public health. Thankfully, digitising patient flow through Cambio PFM could solve it.

Article first published on Cambio’s LinkedIn site on the 3rd June

There is no quick fix for the current nursing crisis in the UK.

The number of nurses currently working in the NHS is falling at an unprecedented rate. Before the pandemic, the NHS was already troubled by heavy demand across all care services. This issue scales beyond the present shortage arising from unfilled vacancies: it also speaks to current trends, a forecast of a growing gap between labour supply and the demands on the NHS.

Post-COVID-19, this pressure has not abated – causing a vast deterioration of staff numbers. For crucial care pathways, such as mental health, the nursing staff shortage is most palpable. In tandem with a vast backlog of elective care treatments to process and rising rates of burnout among NHS, the nursing shortage poses long-term challenges for public health. As such, we have now reached a level of urgency in ensuring that the few nurses working in the NHS receive as much support as possible.

This can be achieved by integrating digital solutions for patient flow management.

Thankfully, the adoption of digital technologies is now on the increase due to learnings we have aggregated during the pandemic. Data-driven platform solutions, like Cambio Patient Flow Manager (PFM), streamline working practices for nursing teams across the NHS. By engaging with tools like Cambio PFM, nurses can now implement scalable solutions to bed management and care; reducing pressure on nursing teams, and improving overall patient outcomes.

Our Nurses Deserve More than Outdated Patient Flow Approaches

In the past, health organisations relied heavily on manual approaches to patient management. Previously, it was not unusual for nursing teams to rely solely on cross-departmental phone calls, frequent meetings, paper and spreadsheets in managing patient flow.

 The implications of these outdated approaches to processing bed status were far-reaching. Beyond A&E delays, they resulted in cancelling elective procedures, delays in admissions and/or discharge and increased mortality rates. Furthermore, the mismanagement of capacity and demand within health organisations has directly resulted in the inefficient distribution of resources. Due to suboptimal patient flow management and bed utilisation, a waste of time and resources has incurred. Inevitably, this has added to the weight of pressure carried by nurses and teams, particularly in their attempts to manage the bed estate and general care. Already overwhelmed by inefficiencies in core processes, nursing staff also experienced lateral issues around care in the community, as well as rising rates of sickness and stress.

Recent times now show that these methods are inefficient in both supporting nursing activities and overall patient well-being. According to a report published by the Health Foundation, the number of community nurses dropped by as much as 12% as a result of this issue. In response to the report, Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN Chief Executive highlighted the fact that this was a crisis ‘known all too well’ by our nursing staff:

‘This independent report paints a bleak pictured, but it is one our nursing staff know all to well. There simply aren’t enough to care safely for patients in hospitals, clinics, their own homes or anywhere else’

Cambio PFM: A Digital Support Tool for Our Nurses

Dame Kinnair also adds that it will take ‘honesty and investment’ in our current and future generation of nurses, in terms of providing ‘supportive infrastructures’, ‘education’ and a chance to upskill themselves through new technologies.

In order to support our nurses throughout the staffing shortage, public health needs to cast its gaze towards real-time, automated solutions. Digital tools like Cambio PFM not only provide Trust executives with a way to understand patient flow data at a granular level – it also allows for nursing teams to make a real difference to patient outcomes by streamlining their workload.

As a bespoke patient flow management solution, Cambio PFM allows for heightened visibility across all nursing activities. It’s engagement with real-time data holds a great impact on care staff, in that the platform allows nurses to plan care around patient needs with more accuracy and efficiency. In doing so, they are given the chance to scale back on wasteful tasks within the patient flow process: thus, ultimately improving health outcomes for patients.

Foremostly, Cambio PFM’s capacity to track patients throughout their entire health journey is particularly beneficial for nursing teams. It’s reporting capabilities allow for efficiency across the entire patient flow process. From real-time A&E admission to discharge and then into community care, Cambio PFM’s use of data allows for dedicated teams to prepare care resources and activities in step with ongoing treatments, procedures and other patient needs.

By integrating and processing information from digital patient dashboards, Cambio PFM allows for nurses to focus on more clinical care tasks. Its capacity to identify patient flow bottlenecks and automate process solutions on behalf of nursing teams allows for care staff to focus on their specific day-to-day needs. 

Conclusion

If we hope to reverse the nursing shortage crisis, health executives need to look into structures that will support their day-to-day work. Specifically, they will need to address challenges related to their retention and replacement: nominally, the process blockers that obstruct them from delivering quality and efficient care.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, bespoke digital technology solutions like Cambio PFM allowed for nursing staff to track patients throughout their entire health journey. This allowed for an already struggling nursing staff to exercise an appropriate amount of care and resources, without over-exerting themselves.

Looking towards recovery, Cambio PFM can offer leadership and nursing teams a solution to improve patient flow management. By equipping care staff with innovative data-driven solutions, Cambio PFM provides nursing teams with a frictionless approach to care management: one that not only ensures improved patient outcomes, but also protects the long-term well-being of our nursing professionals.

Get in touch with the Cambio Healthcare Systems UK team today, to help your teams gain greater insights throughout the entire patient journey.