How Can Telehealth Help Ease the Nursing Crisis?
With increased talk of the challenges facing nursing retention, Care Quality Director with Abi Global health, Giorgia Testoni shares her thoughts on how telehealth can improve the healthcare experience for both nurses and patients.
Should the healthcare industry be concerned about a crisis in the Nursing sector?
Without a doubt, there is a problem to be addressed. The World Health Organisation estimates that the world will need an additional 9 million nurses by the year 2030 for countries to reach the agreed Sustainable Development Goals and that’s very concerning for all of us in the healthcare industry. It is a significant global challenge facing the industry.
And what is driving that shortage?
Several pressures are driving some nurses away from traditional care channels. A study by McKinsey reported elevated rates of nurses leaving and considering leaving direct patient care. 32% of registered nurses (RNs) surveyed said they may leave their current direct-patient-care role – an increase of ten percentage points in under ten months.
Across those surveyed RNs, the most influential factors of whether to stay in a role included safety, flexibility (such as work–life balance, work schedule), and environment. While adequate compensation remains important, it was not as influential as other factors among respondents. When asked specifically about flexibility, surveyed RNs indicated that control over time off and aspects of schedule are most important. The pandemic has added strain but some of these stress points were present long before that.
So how is Abi responding to this trend?
We want to give RNs more control over their work-life balance so they don’t have to make a choice between staying in healthcare or leaving. Our technology is key to delivering this.
Our unique approach to telehealth gives Abi nurses full control over when and where they offer care and in a way that better fits their lifestyle needs. Put simply, when a patient sends their health question, our AI matches them to an available practitioner in seconds. Our technology removes the friction and admin from the patient and the nurse. For our nurses, they can get straight to offering advice in seconds. There is no admin, forms or scheduling to organise. That allows them to focus on what they do best.
So was nursing always part of your service roadmap?
At our core, we see ourselves as providing the first mile of healthcare. When the healthcare industry talks about telehealth it is often done in the context of doctors. Yet nurses make up 50% of the global healthcare workforce and play a crucial and unique role in patient engagement.
We saw tremendous potential in the skill set nurses would bring to our partnerships with pharmaceutical firms, digital health platforms and healthcare insurers. In addition to medical knowledge, nurses bring high levels of empathy, comfort and stability to patients. And that is hugely important to us and our clients. As well as being highly skilled in care, nurses' front-line experience has made them very responsive and efficient. They are naturally fast in their response to questions and our nurses apply that equally in their digital interactions. That’s a great combination for customer satisfaction.
And how have you gone about integrating nurses into your wider service?
Our core approach with nurses is the same as with any of our other healthcare professionals. We use a combination of rigorous quality control when it comes to recruitment and the application of continuous feedback is critical to ensure high service quality is maintained. Nurses, just like all our other healthcare professionals, are prioritised based on continuous user feedback ensuring a high level of service. This is positive for both the patient and the nurse.
Do you expect more nurses to take advantage of telehealth technology such as Abi’s?
Nurses play a critical role in healthcare and are often the ‘unsung heroes’ in the industry. In fact, in traditional healthcare channels, they are often the only health professional a patient will speak to. Now they can work remotely and we think that the application of technology like ours will help more nurses help more people have greater access to healthcare. That’s got to be good for the nursing profession and for the patient. It’s a win-win.
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Giorgia Testoni,Giorgia is Abi Global Health's Care Quality Director.Giorgia is responsible for ensuring the high quality of our healthcare services and brings a career-long passion for solving the challenges faced by patients. She has an impressive background in medical research and innovation at organisations including Novartis, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine Barcelona and Enantia. Her many qualifications include a degree in Medical Biotechnology (Università degli Studi di Ferrara), master’s degree in Molecular Biotechnology (Università di Bologna), masters in Biotechnology (University of California Davis) and a PhD in Biomedicine (University of Barcelona).