Let’s Put Patient Care First

We all know that nurses are very busy. Lately, it seems like much of their time is spent documenting in their EHR system or trying to find things in said system. There is so much to document to make sure that the next clinician can tell what is happening with the patient, as well as all the additional information to meet regulatory compliance. If only they could spend more time focused on patient care! We hear the complaints all the time, but there typically isn’t enough time, energy or support to deal with the changes that could improve the workflow for the nurse and allow them to spend more time with their patients, to listen to their patients and teach them before they return home.

While all of the above is so true, spending time to improve the documentation requirements and workflow can greatly help patients and nurses at the same time. A small change that saves time in their documentation will be multiplied by all the nurses working that day. A huge savings! How can you start making those improvements?

  1. Show support for your nurses by involving them in the projects. Nurses know where they are spending too much time documenting. Obtaining their input will go a long way to help make improvements to the system or processes.
  2. Pull together a group of nurses to review their documentation starting with one form. You may already have a shared governance group, or other nursing group that could tackle this, but it needs to be nurses who are working at the bedside. This is a project by nurses, for nurses and their patients.
  3. Prioritize the list of work suggested and initially look at the “low hanging fruit” for quick wins. By doing so, you will increase buy-in to the projects and more participation. These are items that are easy to do, don’t take a lot of time, but show support for the nurses in your organization.
  4. Communicate what is being worked on and when they can expect the changes. Communicate the changes themselves including training on the changes. Even if the project is taking time to complete, communication is key to keeping nurses involved in this and ongoing projects. Not all suggested changes can be done due to many different regulatory requirements. Keeping communication channels open will help them understand and appreciate the changes that can be made.

Many of the changes above can be applied to other clinician groups, and they should be. Making changes to systems and processes that are requested by nurses and other clinicians helps them to feel they are a valuable part of our organization.