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Bringing Instant Gratification to Nurses

Posted by Chris Richie on Aug 5, 2015 11:11:00 AM

In Mobile Tech, Nursing


Right now, like right this second if you really wanted, you could order a dozen pizzas, grab a champagne stocked limo to the airport, book a flight and hotel to Vegas, check the local weather, liquidate the savings account, cue up some Spotify jams and update your Facebook status to permanent vacation… all with one thumb. We live in a world of instant gratification. We'll all gladly pay a premium for convenience. If you want something, there’s either somebody out there who can give it to you at the push of a button, (Amazon, Uber, Netflix, etc.) or somebody working very hard to make an app for it (most likely from their MIT dorm.)

No Patience

Way back in 2012 Ramesh Sitaraman and Shunmuga Krishnan published a UMass Amherst and Akamai Technology research paper on the same startling evidence — that we have absolutely no patience. Well, that’s not completely fair, we’ve got about 2 seconds of patience. By looking at the data of 23 million video views from 6.7 million unique visitors, the findings showed that viewers start to abandon the video if the startup delay exceeded about 2 seconds. Beyond that point, a 1-second increase in delay resulted in roughly a 5.8% increase in abandonment rate.

Is all this instant gratification and impatience ruining society, damaging the youth, creating a world of Veruca Salts? Probably, but the genie is out of the bottle. Unfortunately, this movement has been largely limited to consumer needs. What we need to start demanding is the same VIP treatment at our jobs! Let’s talk about a profession where you need to have a lot of patience, let’s talk about nursing — a profession that’s begging for technology to bring it some instant gratification.

Consumer Apps Deliver

Right now in most hospitals, if you’re a nurse who’d like to order an iced vanilla latte from Starbucks, you can pull out your phone, open the app, choose your order and click to accept. Every so often you even get a free coffee out of the deal. Now don’t you feel like RN royalty over there! They're even working on delivering it right to your office. 

Then you get back to work and have to order an infusion pump, or a room turn or gluten-free meal and you’re either asking someone to put in a call, putting in the call yourself, or jumping on a desktop, and chances are you’ve had to ask for something more than once. At best it’s an inefficient workflow, at worst it’s a time sucking scavenger hunt keeping you from doing your job.

Then there’s facilities management. Hospitals are like any other buildings, and that means fairly often stuff needs fixing. Lights break, sinks leak, doors jam — and while it isn’t a nurse’s job to bust out a wrench kit, they’re usually the ones on the front lines noticing it first. They’re usually the ones notifying someone, or putting in the call themselves to get something fixed. Then then they’re off getting back to the real job at hand, helping patients get better, and no one really knows if anything’s actually getting done.  

Mobile Solutions Exist

Just ask Jennifer Williams in the engineering department at Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her team started ditching their desktops for more streamlined mobile solutions and they’re not looking back. “For Novant, we push a remarkable patient experience. It’s hard to have that when your toilets leaking and your television doesn’t work, and the ability for the nurses to recognize, that very quickly they can put that request in and within seconds a technician’s got it and can take care of it is huge for us,” says Williams. Before, nursing would place requests to various support departments using a list of phone numbers and email addresses. This fragmented one-way communication was confusing and time consuming for nursing and often resulted in lost requests, delays and wasted time following up.

Today requests for any service needs are made with a thumb push on a mobile app or on an easy-to-use web portal. The requests are automatically and instantaneously dispatched to the appropriate staff member’s mobile device. This real-time two-way communication creates a closed-loop process that ensures quick fulfillment and builds trust between the clinicians and support staff.

We need more Jen Williams and Novants out there — people and places that are striving for better patient experiences and understand that it happens by fixing hospital operations. Nurses need big, easy buttons. They don’t have time wrestle with antiquated software with a sadistic user experience. You don’t have to jump through hoops to order a latte, why should they have to jump through hoops to order a pump that’s going to deliver needed medicine to a patient. You push a button, it gets logged, it’s in the system, the data is there, the work order is there, and you get it faster, which means the patient gets it faster.    

We need more hospitals to realize that these mobile solutions exist. It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense. Nurses are multi-tasking so many things that take them away from the patient. Technology needs to enable nurses to put in work orders to facilities services, couriers, patient transport, and the pharmacy with a swipe of the thumb and a push of a button. We need to get nurses what they need, when they need it, and we need to start now.