A pending new federal rule defining strong nursing home staffing minimums has finally accomplished something that I thought unlikely in my lifetime.
It has in a single stroke aligned the interests of patients and their loved ones, nurses, nursing homes, state and federal governments, and taxpayers in finding ways to make existing nursing home staffs more efficient and effective.
That alignment brings the miracle of the loaves and fishes to mind.
It takes some explaining.
- The value of the new regulations to patients and loved ones and nurses is clear. Better quality of care for patients and better working conditions — less stress and better job satisfaction — for the nurses.
- The nursing homes and their lobbyists oppose the new rule, but it appears that it will happen. They face a significant shortage of registered nurses in Virginia and competition for nurses from hospitals with deeper pockets. So, they very much want to somehow reduce the new minimum federal requirements.
- The state and federal governments, and thus the taxpayers, will inevitably see demands for Medicare and Medicaid payment increases to pay for the new staff. So, it would benefit taxpayers and the national debt to reduce those ratios as long as the desired levels of care could be maintained.
One answer to address all of those interests is extensive automation of processes in which nurses are involved. Just some of the requirements:
- Integrate electronic health records (EHR) and nurse support apps for real-time data entry on mobile devices;
- Remotely pre-screen, prioritize and automate alert and alarm workflows;
- Alert to medication administration requirements and help prevent medication errors;
- Enable nurses to notify the appropriate responders to crises with one click on a mobile device.