Though predictions as to its severity fluctuate, America’s nursing shortage remains an ongoing concern for many healthcare facilities - and particularly among post-acute care centers and skilled nursing facilities, where market competition is intense and labor costs more acutely felt.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), a variety of factors are combining to accelerate the need for quality care at a time when “nursing schools across the country are struggling to expand capacity,” including:
- The aging of Baby Boomers, which is altering the patient-to-nurse ratio
- The shift toward value-based care, which is requiring a different application of labor
- A higher percentage of nurses nearing the age of retirement
- Higher levels of turnover and career dissatisfaction among nurses (perhaps exacerbated by the ongoing shortage)
In its report, the AACN points to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2014-2024, which predicts job growth rate for registered nurses at 16%. “Nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for RN and APRN services,” the association concludes.
Even the more skeptical reports admit that problem areas exist. In an article exploring the state of the national nursing shortage, Nurse.org’s Amy Blitchok points to a 2017 report that predicts a less severe nursing shortage in the United States. But that’s partially thanks to potentially problematic corrective factors like the fact that many “nurses are working well past typical retirement ages.”
Blitchok also points out that, “while the nursing shortage won’t be quite as extensive as predicted in the near future, there are still states that will need qualified nurses to fill positions.” That list still covers every region in the United States - and topping it are California and Texas, the two most populous states.
Post-Acute & Skilled Nursing Facilities Face Greater Need for Nursing Shortage Solutions
Whether or not they operate in a region struck by the nursing shortage, managers of post-acute centers and skilled nursing facilities can still face challenges attracting and retaining top-tier talent in an increasingly competitive market. And in a kind of catch-22, that heightened level of competition makes attracting top nursing talent even more important, and difficult.
“Post-acute facilities are also facing shortages of qualified nurses, which contribute to rising labor costs,” the authors note. “The Paraprofessionals Healthcare Institute reports that demand for ‘direct-care workers,’ such as personal care, home health and nursing aides, as well as orderlies and attendants, will grow by 48% from 2010 to 2030 - four times the rate of all occupations combined."
For post-acute facilities, finding real nursing shortage solutions doesn’t just mean staying fully staffed with well-paid, highly trained nurses. It also means finding ways to leverage the efficiency of current staffing levels and streamlining operational costs in such a way that shortages are less keenly felt.
The good news is that solutions to accomplish just that are readily available, thanks to new technological innovations. In a white paper on how contact-free continuous monitoring (CFCM) can help solve nursing shortage challenges, researchers from Frost & Sullivan argue that the technology “improves the quality of care and staff efficiencies in post-acute facilities and helps them competitively position as a market leader.”
Expanding Range of Acuity to Meet Labor Market Challenges
By allowing a post-acute facility to take on more complex patients, “which the facility may not have been able to manage in the past because of labor shortages,” contact-free continuous monitoring also offers the chance to expand the “range of patient acuity that a post-acute facility can treat, thereby bringing opportunities for higher payments,” the authors note.
“Referring hospitals and physicians will drive their complex patients to the facility since its adoption of CFCM demonstrates it is best in class and outcomes have improved,” they continue. “Few, if any, additional staff members are added to support the technology.”
What makes contact-free continuous monitoring a key differentiator in a facility’s ability to effectively treat higher-acuity patients? In short, it offers facilities a proven method for:
- Improving fall prevention efforts
- Offsetting patient deterioration by enabling earlier intervention
- Tracking trends and data that can improve learning and predictive modeling
- Yielding more specific patient information that helps caregivers better titrate medication
- Filling in the gaps between nursing rounds (particularly applicable to post-acute settings, where rounds tend to be less frequent)
In short, the implementation of contact-free continuous monitoring “improves the quality of care so that the facility can better compete in a crowded market,” the authors add, “delivered with a technology that can work within existing infrastructure and under an affordable payment model.”
Finding Nursing Staffing Solutions with Continuous Monitoring Technology
The message is clear: As labor costs rise and the labor pool shrinks - and the demand for specialized, complex care accelerates, thanks to the nation’s nursing shortage - the competitive advantages offered by contact-free continuous monitoring are timelier than ever.
If you’re interested in learning more about how contact-free continuous monitoring can help your facility achieve a solution to nursing shortages or labor concerns, we invite you to download your complimentary copy of the CFCM white paper below, or contact us here to schedule a consultation with an EarlySense expert.