As a Chief Nursing Officer and clinical steward of care at your facility, you are challenged with a daunting mission. The post-COVID crisis has amplified the need to focus on innovative strategies to tackle the workforce challenges and shortages the healthcare industry is struggling with. Your nursing teams and leaders are tired, stressed, and burnt out as the effects of the pandemic continue to ripple through the organization.
The shortage of nurses is a reality hitting home very hard and the forecast is not bright. With experienced nurses exiting the workforce at an accelerated rate, many organizations are left with the complex challenge of providing top-notch quality care for sicker patients with less experienced nurses. All the while, you know that your nursing team is the heart of the hospital and that the continued steady beat is critical to ongoing operations.
As you look toward the future of care delivery you are evaluating both long and short-term strategies to grow, sustain, and stabilize your workforce. With workforce stabilization and retention at the center of your strategy, you have concluded that evaluating a new care model is an opportunity to both maximize the skill of your workforce, enable operational efficiencies, and also to put the joy back into the nursing profession over time. As you embark on crafting your strategy of a newly designed care team to incorporate virtual nurses how do you gain approval and buy-in to make this a reality for your organization?
First, address this just like any business problem you are facing today.
You need a business plan coupled with commensurate ROI to sell this to your boss, the executive team, and the Board! As you prepare your business case socialize the concepts first with your boss and then with your peer executive group to gain alignment and support with the overall strategy. This will serve as a litmus test as you move to seek formal administrative/Board approval to move forward. Feedback will set the course for your next set of steps. As with any new initiative, you will compete for funding – so it is imperative that your pitch hit home on many levels.
Next, gain support and align your proposal.
Tie your proposal to the organization’s strategic goals to highlight how the execution of your plan will pave the path to the future. Supply the overview of standing up a new care team model and how incorporating virtual nursing will support the following key organizational initiatives:
Nursing stabilization, retention, and recruitment
Reduced Travel Nurse burden
Improved quality and patient experience outcomes
Improved Length of Stay
Your executive summary is key.
Your executive summary should focus on both the tie to the overall strategy as well as recommendations on how to incorporate into current or budgeted operational spend.
Most importantly, highlight ROI in hard dollars.
Finally, and most importantly highlight the ROI in hard dollar equivalents. Show what the organization will save over the projected period. The soft dollar/avoidance costs can also be shared – but should be reflected as secondary anticipated benefits.
The best practice is this.
The best practice is to have the organization try the approach with a pilot unit, followed by rollout if outcomes are achieved as expected. The pilot period is typically 9-12 months.
Onboard your leadership, with bedside nurses taking ownership.
With any change, the organization will be best served if its leadership is fully onboard and supportive throughout both the pilot and facility/enterprise rollout. It is key that the chosen virtual team becomes part of the holistic care team and ultimately part of how the bedside team gets to practice what they love most – spending quality time with their patients. Additionally and most importantly your nursing team needs to make this their own by branding, embracing, and sustaining the model through shared governance/professional practice councils and continuing education.