As MedAptus continues in its quest to intelligently automate the clinical resource assignment process, our interest in the nursing arena has greatly intensified. While a lot of technology exists to aid in the areas of nurse scheduling and shift swapping, there has been little to no focus by technology companies to enhance and expedite the nurse-to-patient assignment process that typically happens three times a day. Spending a lot of time in hospitals myself, I have come to understand that most charge nurses are quite adept in mentally making assignments since they have excellent recall around patient histories, nursing personnel skills and certifications, and also have their finger on the pulse of all-around floor activity. But given so many hospitals have critical nursing shortages (or are at least at a deficit stage), removing administratively focused tasks in order to have more resources patient-facing is a goal that is hard to argue with.
When it comes to the assignment process, the factors that can determine optimal alignment – not just for the patient but the nurse as well – are numerous. As one nurse shared with our product team, on her floor, which is a bone marrow transplant unit, the charge nurse strives to assign no more than one patient with a hospital-acquired infection per nurse. Why? Purely to reduce the risk of illness to the nurse (and if you have ever had an experience with c-diff, you totally understand why). There are many other ‘subtleties’ that this floor takes into account when doing assignment, and they often span the entire floor population. For example, if there is one patient unable to communicate, not an issue. But if there are two patients unable to speak, those must be split across two different nursing resources.
Overall the assignment process seems simple enough – each nurse gets X patients per shift and there are Y patients and Z nurses, but it’s incredibly complex, and made more challenging by the nature of nurse shift changes, schedule swaps and (somewhat) unexpected volume fluctuations. And in the examples above, must take into account more of a population health approach than singular patient attributes.
So this is where Assign for Nurses comes in. MedAptus’ care coordination platform enables hospitals to take numerous assignment factors from various systems and process them via an established hierarchy which all produces a draft assignment plan for the shift, which can be overridden as needed. This takes only a matter of minutes, instead of the better part of an hour as we have heard that the manual assignment approach usually takes. And with this automation in place, nursing personnel feel like there is more opportunity for equity, less room for chance, and better insight into what they bring to the table when it comes to a specific patient episode.
At MedAptus we are very excited about our transition into care coordination and the opportunity to work with nurses who are also quite enthused about the opportunity Assign offers. This week our senior team will be in Orlando at the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s annual conference where we will be mingling with thousands of nurses, getting their feedback and insight around what matters at their hospital when it comes to distributing patients and how we can make our solution even stronger for solving the problems that keep some of the brightest, more caring minds awake at night.