You’ve probably heard about the prevailing nursing shortage that’s grown since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chances are, your organization has experienced its effects to some degree. But early retirement and employee burnout aren’t the only reasons for the lack of available nurses. It’s also due to surprising delays in nurse licensing. According to NPR, this isn’t an isolated incident, especially in states that currently report a higher percentage of available nurses. Here’s why, and how outsourced telehealth triage can offer temporary relief.
Cause of Nurse Licensing Delays
Similar to bottlenecks in the supply chain, the processing of nurse licenses has been backed up because of demand. NPR notes that “many states were inundated with thousands more applications last year compared to 2020 as traveling nurses followed COVID-19 waves across state lines.” On top of that, nurses that have been licensed in one state are often required to obtain a new license if they move to, or seek temporary employment in, another state. The Nurse Licensure Compact, started back in 2000, was meant to ease some of this burden. However, it met resistance from nursing boards and unions due to the financial implications, as well as the ability to verify nurse qualifications.
The result that we’re seeing today is that nurses can be stuck in “application limbo” for months at a time, compounding an already overburdened healthcare system trying to recover from the pandemic.
Until nursing shortages can be addressed appropriately, healthcare providers do have options for temporary relief. These include the use of outsourced telehealth triage nurses, who can answer patient phone calls and offer them dispositions on care; remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices, which can monitor the symptoms of chronically ill patients while nurses are away; and secure text, which reduces the amount of turnaround time nurses need in order to receive updates from doctors to help their patients. All of these services can save your staff time and, as a result, help manage the current nurse shortages we are experiencing.
Telehealth Triage Nurses Offer Continuity of Care
Telehealth triage nurses rely on standardized protocols developed by Drs. Schmitt and Thompson to address patient symptoms during each call. These measure symptom severity to determine how urgently a patient should seek care, and from whom. Additionally, these phone interactions can be fully documented within nurse triage software, with the ability to share that information directly with the patient’s primary care doctor, referred doctor, or ER contact based on the disposition they receive. This results in fewer chances for delay, and a greater continuity of care.
RPM Reduces In-Person Checkups
Remote Patient Monitoring allows greater flexibility for your nurses regarding the care of chronically ill patients. This is because RPM devices continuously monitor patient vitals to identify signs of potential medical complications, often eliminating the necessity for in-person checkups. Instead, nurses can spend more time focusing on the needs of in-office patients.
Outsourcing the review of this RPM data is also an option, based on the staffing levels of your practice. TriageLogic maintains a call center of clinical and nonclinical employees who are able to review data from these devices and then notify your patients if their results appear concerning.
Secure Text Saves Time — and Lives
You can reduce the workload on your current nursing staff by giving them the convenience of a secure text service with your doctors. Rather than paging doctors and waiting on them to respond, nurses can get immediate feedback to address a patient’s needs, concerns, or changing symptoms. This is especially valuable when doctors are in areas with poor phone reception, or that are too noisy for them to hear a nurse during a call.
TriageLogic offers its own secure text service that doesn’t come with the need to download an app, software, or support. All your nurses will require is a browser to send encrypted, HIPAA-compliant messages to your doctors, who will then be required to acknowledge those messages before they can be read. This creates a digital paper trail so that nurses know when messages are viewed, and any information can be properly documented within the patient’s file.
Are You Experiencing a Nursing Shortage?
If your team is experiencing a nursing shortage, we want to help. Please contact us to discuss what aspects of nurse triage, telehealth, RPM, or secure text would be ideal for your practice. We can develop a customized solution to best fit your needs.
TriageLogic is a URAC-accredited, physician-led provider of top-quality nurse telehealth technology, remote patient monitoring, and medical call center solutions. Founded in 2007, the TriageLogic Group now serves more than 9,000 physicians and covers over 25 million lives nationwide.