Although many nurses said they planned to retire from the profession rather than resign, one in five nurses has complained of a lack of technology which might better support day to day nursing activities, or provide more flexible rostering.
The Nursing Pulse Check report, the result of a survey of over 200 nurses, was commissioned by Kronos, which develops workforce management systems. According to vice president Peter Harte, although technology has developed rapidly in this area, the issues that nurses report as a problem today are much the same as they were around eight years ago when the company first conducted attitudinal research.
Mr Harte said that the survey found nurses would on the whole be keen to use modern technology especially where it increased their efficiency, allowed them access to improved professional development, and also allowed them to view and switch their shifts from a mobile device.
According to IT analyst Ovum spending on healthcare IT has been growing by around 10 per cent a year in Australia, and is predicted to reach $US2.4 billion by 2016 as agencies seek to rein in costs. However in a major analysis of the sector released in 2011 Ovum warned that to date Australia’s healthcare sector had invested far less on technology than the US or Europe.
Although there was a growing understanding in the health sector about the need for technology, Mr Harte said this was being led by the private hospital and aged care sectors where private investors were looking to drive efficiencies and retain nurses. Progress in the public health sector was patchier he said.
At present “Healthcare facilities don’t offer the tools that attract and retain nurses,” said Mr Harte. “Once people leave this profession getting people back in is very difficult.”
As part of the survey nurses were asked to identify the most important factors which could improve their productivity. Access to a collaborative environment (98 per cent), manageable workload (97 per cent), and having technology and the skills to use it to help with day-to-day work (95 per cent) emerged as top factors for almost all nurses.
In addition 69 per cent said they were very open to the introduction of new technology into hospitals. Four out of five thought new technology would help their own professional development, while 70 per cent thought patients would also benefit.