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The nurse’s journey: how smart data capture will revolutionize hospital processes | Luciane Ragni

Article

To attract and retain staff, healthcare organizations must improve the data capture equipment and systems that nurses use daily.

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is suffering from a staffing crisis like no other.

According to recent reports, registered nursing is the fifth most in-demand job in America, and experts project 1.2 million nurses will be needed by 2030 to address the current deficit.

The situation has clearly reached a breaking point. The healthcare industry needs to take action to improve nurses’ day-to-day processes and reduce the number of employees leaving the profession due to burnout and stress. Healthcare organizations are competing to attract talent and reassure their nursing staff they will be supported by systems and technology to keep them productive and engaged.

Numerous critical elements of nurses’ day-to-day work require barcode scanning and other data capture tasks. Whether verifying patient data or medication, tracking medical supplies, or ensuring test samples are correctly labeled and routed, efficient data capture is key.

To attract and retain staff, healthcare organizations must improve the data capture equipment and systems that nurses use daily.

Driving day-to-day delight

Resource-strapped healthcare organizations are now required to do more work, faster. By introducing smart data capture solutions on smartphones, multiple daily processes can be brought together on a single device that can easily slip into a nurse’s pocket and be used at a moment’s notice.

Staff will already be familiar with smart devices from personal use, so the experience is intuitive from the start. Onboarding is also faster and easier with augmented reality (AR)-based information overlays, used to speed up training, reduce stress, and improve productivity.

Dedicated scanning devices in hospitals are often part of workstations on wheels that nurses must maneuver throughout their day. They require different battery packs and are often bulky and slow, making the simplest of tasks tedious and time-consuming.

Smart devices eliminate the need for sourcing the right equipment and wheeling it from patient to patient. Clinical mobility and super-accurate scanning instantly provide nurses with critical information on-screen, and scanning multiple barcodes at once and AR-powered picking helps them quickly find the right medication for patients.

Eliminating medication administration risks

One of the key touchpoints on a nurse’s journey is medication administration. However, with pressure to increase productivity despite chronic staffing shortages, there’s a greater risk of error.

In the US, experts state 500,000 medication errors take place daily and are the third leading cause of outpatient visits after cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Barcode medication administration (BCMA) processes require easy-to-use, error-free scanning technology. Medication packaging comes in many forms which can pose challenges for nurses. For instance, curved, highly reflective surfaces and minuscule barcodes can be tricky to scan, especially in darkened patient rooms. A recent study suggests that BCMA also has technological constraints, including low laptop battery, system lags, and freezing, malfunctioning, or unavailable barcode scanners.

A smart device powered with a reliable and superfast scanner enables nurses to overcome these challenges and helps confirm the ‘five rights’: right patient, medication, dose, route, and time. When limited by technology, processes are slowed and deviations from established protocols are inevitable.

Inventory Management in Healthcare

Accurately storing and managing medications is incredibly important for eliminating extra costs, meeting regulatory requirements, and keeping patients safe. However, pharmacy inventory management in hospitals is largely still a manual process today, and many challenges can arise when keeping track of medications.

Inventory should be regularly checked for expiration dates to ensure they’re not outdated. With smart data capture technology, pharmacists can view an entire shelf in a single scan, while AR overlays highlight important medication information such as expiration dates, patient-specific dosage instructions, allergy information, and more - helping reduce errors and increase patient safety.

Enhanced care

By speeding up workflows securely and accurately, smart data capture solutions offer nurses more time to care for their patients, which has been shown to improve job satisfaction and retention, as well as patient safety and overall experience.

Additionally, enhanced capabilities allow nurses to complete non-intrusive scanning. Patient wristbands are a critical touchpoint and part of nearly every scanning sequence, but their surfaces can be difficult to scan with dedicated devices, and the process can often disturb the patient. This distress can be easily avoided with smart data capture offerings.

Future-ready healthcare

Scanning-enabled mobile devices are also budget-friendly, having a significantly lower total cost of ownership than dedicated scanners. The combination of smart data capture and smart devices provides a flexible, future-ready solution that scales with growing healthcare needs and evolves as new technologies or use cases arise.

The technology can support end-to-end supply chain visibility of medication, improve detection and removal of unsafe drugs, and promote pharmaceutical traceability. Integration with automated dispensing devices and pharmacy management systems can allow for automatic tracking and inventory count, and with constant research and development underway for both software and hardware, organizations are not limited to a single mobile solution manufacturer or software vendor.

Overall, incorporating smart devices and high-performance data capture tools across every step of the nurse’s daily journey can allow for improved hospital workflows, better inventory management, boosted staff retention, and improved patient care.

Luciane Ragni is the industry solutions manager for healthcare at Scandit, a technology company.

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