Report Identifies Positive Impact Technology Can Have on Nurse Productivity and Satisfaction

California HealthCare Foundation and First Consulting Group explore technology benefits to nursing shortage


In an effort to address the increasingly serious national nursing shortage, the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) and First Consulting Group (FCG) (NASDAQ: FCGI) have published a first-of-its-kind report on the potential benefits new information technologies can have on improving nursing productivity, effectiveness, and satisfaction. The report, The Nursing Shortage: Can Technology Help? is designed to help health care executives use information technology to reduce the paperwork and inefficient work processes that have helped contribute to the nursing shortage. The report can be found online through the link at the bottom of this page.

The nursing shortage is reaching crisis proportions with 12% of all nursing positions at hospitals nationally remaining unfilled. Everyone agrees the problem is going to get worse. By 2020, the country will experience a shortfall of as many as 500,000 nurses, according to one estimate. Demand for nurses is increasing due to older and sicker patients, greater complexity of care, and growing paperwork, while the supply of nurses is diminishing. The aging nurse population is one factor; by 2010, more than 40% of registered nurses will be over the age of 50, but as these nurses retire, they are not being replaced with new recruits. In order to mitigate the impact of the shortage on patient care, hospitals need to find ways to increase nurse productivity and effectiveness.

The CHCF report includes compelling examples of innovative hospitals using a range of information technologies to support better and more productive nursing care. One hospital adopted a strategy similar to that of Internet companies Priceline and E-Bay and built a Web site, “RNJobs.com,” in which nurses could bid for vacant shifts, successfully filling shifts that had gone empty under the normal staffing process. Another hospital gave its nurses wireless phones, enabling them to make and receive calls anywhere on the unit, while eliminating noisy paging systems and time-consuming trips to the nurses’ station.

The Nursing Shortage: Can Technology Help? provides specifics of how health care organizations have successfully implemented the use of various information technologies to address the shortage in several areas:

  • Nurse scheduling
  • Mobile communication
  • Patient education
  • Messaging and email
  • Medication administration
  • Clinical decision support
  • Computerized physician order entry (CPOE)
  • Automated nursing documentation
  • Computerized patient record

In addition to highlighting various systems to support nurses, the CHCF report covers both financial considerations and key insights from the field in successfully implementing technology in a nursing environment.

Tom Lee, M.D., M.B.A., senior program officer at CHCF, said, “Although there is plenty of news about the nursing shortage, we rarely hear how technology can alleviate some of the contributing factors. This report takes an important first step at exploring innovative technology solutions that not only make nurses more efficient but satisfied in the important work that they do.”

Mychelle Mowry, R.N., M.N., a director of FCG’s patient safety practice and an author of the CHCF report, said, “Automation is becoming a key ingredient in any comprehensive strategy to address nursing needs. More and more, nurses are saying they are attracted to jobs and work environments that incorporate technology to not only make their jobs easier, but improve patient safety as well. It’s clear that the future of nursing depends upon prudent and strategic use of technology.”

Erica Drazen, V.P. and managing director of FCG’s Emerging Practices unit, which developed the report, said, “Training more nurses won’t be enough to solve our shortage problem. We must use technology to make nurses’ jobs more rewarding and to allow them to spend more time with patients and less with paperwork.”

Online Discussion of Nursing and Technology

Simultaneous with the release of this report, FCG and CHCF are hosting an interactive Web discussion board for readers to exchange ideas about other innovative technologies and how to address the nursing shortage. The report authors from First Consulting Group will be moderating the discussion of the ideas in this report.

About First Consulting Group

FCG is leading provider of consulting, technology, and outsourcing services for health care, pharmaceutical, and other life-sciences organizations throughout North America and Europe. The firm’s services increase clients’ operations effectiveness, resulting in reduced costs, improved customer service, enhanced quality of patient care, and more rapid introduction of new pharmaceutical compounds. For more information about FCG, see www.fcg.com or call 800.345.0957.


About the California Health Care Foundation

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.