Though Covid-19 will never be eradicated from our lives completely, we are no longer in a pandemic phase. The pandemic took the world, and the healthcare industry, by storm. With over 6 million deaths worldwide, it’s safe to say we were not prepared. Through these past two years of fear, depression, and illness a potential silver lining emerged. The cracks in our healthcare system have been exposed. The way we access and deliver care is changing and nurses are an integral part of emerging trends.
In this post-pandemic world, what have we learned? What changes must be made to strengthen and protect the nursing workforce? To improve our healthcare system overall? How can nurses influence changing trends in healthcare?
The pandemic highlighted an aspect of nursing that didn’t come as much of a surprise - the shortage of nurses. With the surge of patients requiring critical care and monitoring, there weren’t enough nurses or equipment to keep up with the influx. Travel nursing grew 35% in 2020 and is expected to grow by an additional 40% in the future.
The pandemic opened the door for nurses to seek employment on their terms. To adventure to new states, take months off between contracts, and rake in substantial cash. Nursing continues to evolve post-pandemic and is no longer contained to one hospital or even a hospital at all as the way we deliver healthcare changes.
When older work models are no longer serving the industry, you have to make changes to keep up with demands. For example, very few facilities continue to do paper charting and most have transitioned to electronic medical records (EMRs). Post-pandemic, most facilities are predicted to completely switch to EMRs. The ability to communicate and coordinate services through the interoperability of EMRs reduces errors and supports continuity of care. With the transition to using EMRs, telehealth care is becoming more available than ever.
McKinsey & Company found in the first month of the pandemic, telehealth usage was 78 times higher when compared to a year before. Specialties such as endocrinology, rheumatology, and gastroenterology saw a rise in telehealth visits. The largest increase though was in psychiatry (50%) and substance use treatment (30%).
40% of patients state they plan to continue to use telehealth services and express an interest in broader access to virtual care. A year into the pandemic, 84% of physicians were offering telehealth visits with over half planning to continue post-pandemic.
Liz Jane from Dofeve, a medical doctor who specializes in embryology, pharmacology, internal medicine, and more, agrees with the rise of telehealth and telemedicine, stating “I think we will continue to see an increase in the use of technology in healthcare, particularly in the form of remote patient monitoring, automated medication dispensing, and automated diagnostic testing. The goal will be to improve access to care, safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.”
Nurses are benefiting from access to telehealth care as well. The boom of telecommuting brought forth by the pandemic was a welcome change for many in office settings. This work-from-home model is extending into healthcare too. While telemedicine jobs aren’t necessarily new to the nursing world, they have certainly increased and will continue to grow post-pandemic. Virtual care still requires a professional behind a screen or operating a platform. Remote patient monitoring doesn’t work unless a healthcare provider is reviewing and assessing the data.
Nurses are being recruited for virtual roles such as health coaches, patient triage, insurance authorization, and other telehealth opportunities. Remote jobs for nurses used to be a rare and coveted position but can now be easily found on any job board post-pandemic. Often less stressful and certainly less physically demanding, this rising trend in technology is exciting for the future of nursing.
41% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Nurses experienced an increase in anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress. Mental health became its own crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic. Employers responded with a focus on the mental wellbeing of nurses. Dr. Jane believes this is a trend that will continue by “providing resources and programs to help employees stay healthy both physically and emotionally and offering resources that can help balance work life and family life.”
The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity recognizes that nurse wellbeing is impacted by the external environment, organization structure and policies, and day-to-day work conditions. The wellbeing of nurses is the responsibility of themselves as well as their employers. Facilities are recognizing the need for mental health and taking actions to take care of their staff post-pandemic.
The American Nurses Association’s Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation program seeks to improve the health of nurses in 6 areas: physical activity, mental health, nutrition, rest, quality of life, and safety. Nurses join the program, take a health assessment survey to identify their health risks, and then participate in health challenges. Health systems can participate by offering supportive resources such as:
If nurses desire to make true change in their profession and the lives of their patients, they must seek positions of leadership. CEOs, chief medical officers, and government officials were at the forefront of decision-making during the pandemic. Why weren’t highly experienced nurses involved? Nurse leaders possess the qualities necessary to impact the culture and environment of nursing which directly affect patient outcomes. We can’t expect our healthcare landscape to improve if we lack the motivation to be a part of that change.
“Nurses should be leaders in the design of healthcare systems, not just the delivery of care.”
The pandemic shined a light on the glaring gaps in healthcare and nursing. The trends that emerged post-pandemic are opportunities for growth. To take what we have learned from our losses and generate improved processes. Nurses were vital to curbing and ending the pandemic and their perspective and ideas should be an integral part of shaping emerging trends.
Advantis Medical Staffing focuses on providing the best services and support to travel nurses across the United States. From negotiating the best rates, offering housing assistance, open lines of communication, and a continuously evolving service model, Advantis Medical Staffing makes travel nursing easy. Sign up on the AdvantisConnect job portal to get connected to your personal recruiter and browse jobs.