How Accelerating Care Navigation will Support Nurses and Patients on the Front End

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Physician with female patient

Cool Photos from Depositphotos

By Carol Everhart, MS, RN, Director, Healthcare Industry Principal, Pegasystems 

Over a year ago, healthcare workers, primarily nurses everywhere, saw their lives upended by the pandemic. Although COVID-19 may no longer be surging widely across the United States, the flight through it continues. Nurses experience emotions ranging from disillusionment to anxiety to a lost sense of meaning in their work. Meanwhile, there’s an ongoing staffing crisis that’s making these problems worse. As the nursing shortage and staff departures continue to plague health systems, critical care for patients is in jeopardy. It is more complex than ever to deliver safe and quality care.

Additionally, while patient safety and care must come first, the behind-the-scenes documentation work is a necessary evil-especially when there’s a heavy workload and an unbalanced patient-nurse ratio. It has worsened when nursing staff are physically worn out and can’t step away or take a standard 15-minute break. The odds are these current shortfalls impact the care process from nurse to the patient. While the industry was making progress pre-pandemic, and healthcare systems have been evolving and innovating how they staff nursing units and support patient care across the care system, the need to accelerate automation and technology efforts is critical.

Eliminating data silos to reduce repetition and duplicative efforts

Then there’s clinical documentation. Nurses spend up to half their time fulfilling clinical documentation requirements and data entry and less time with patients. As a result, it’s hard for care teams to do what’s suitable for the patient when navigating through five-plus screens to identify care needs, services, or requests. 

Break down the silos – freeing the patient data in siloed legacy applications – when health organizations integrate patient data and streamline care interactions through integration, automation, and connected workflows. By making touchpoints more efficient and effective in handling patient needs, the care team can support the entire patient journey spanning care navigation, service, and outreach. Helping provide the underpinning for a complete patient view enables predictive analytics and AI to generate actionable insights that improve the patient experience.

Avoiding data inaccuracies when automating processes

Far too often, within a high-intensity environment of caring for patients and driving clinical documentation, nurses, care teams, and specialists make decisions based on the information they have on hand and the data they are viewing. On top of that, without even realizing it, often due to exhaustion, there’s an uptick in inaccurate intake errors, resulting in patient misinformation that remains significantly siloed across care teams. In addition, with disparate data systems, it is easy to go with inaccurate information already in the system under the assumption it’s accurate to the care plan – perpetuating the manual follow-up activities and taking away from patient care. 

The challenge is getting a complete patient view with information from multiple systems, especially when three or four different specialists manage a patient’s care. They support the entire patient journey, which does not start when the patient enters the exam room. To improve the patient care experience and outcome, care teams need to ensure a personalized experience at every connection point for consistency to meet each patients’ need. Then ensures all care team members have the correct required information at their fingertips when interacting with patients, including telehealth visits. This understanding reduces friction and streamlines service and care navigation for patients and staff.

Turning insights into proactive care management 

The critical component for a seamless experience that’s connected and easily accessed by caregivers, coordinators, and the care team is to have one centralized intelligence. Think of it as anopportunity to elevate and maintain compliance management without directly impacting nursing resources that may not presently exist. Working system-wide across channels, functions, and interactions to help define, navigate, and coordinate patient-centric workflow activities across the care system. 

It enables care teams to engage better, support, and nurture patients through their entire health journey. The first step to personalized patient engagement includes the first point of contact. After that, it enables the development of standardized care plans to support patient needs effortlessly in real-time and easily modify for personalization faster. If the process isn’t centralized, care navigation will rapidly become disjointed and disconnected from other channels, with the care team not in sync with the patient’s needs.  

As healthcare continues to become increasingly complex and the pace of technological change accelerates, the need to make it personal, make it simple, make it fast has never been more pressing. Nurse and patient care teams are at the center of this acceleration. With today’s technology, there’s more flexibility to help deliver personalized and empathetic care together by automating follow up activities and anticipating care needs 

in one single view of a patient’s plan of care.

About the Author

As an Industry Principal for Healthcare and Life Sciences at Pega, Carol Everhart, RN, MS applies her decades of experience in healthcare administration and practical knowledge as a Registered Nurse to help healthcare and life sciences organizations streamline operations and deliver more personalized member engagement.