Opinion: Transforming nursing through digital innovation

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A Google Images search of “nurses” displays rows of stock photos showing medical professionals having meaningful interactions with patients. The nurses in these images lean over elderly patients’ bedsides and walk down hospital hallways holding pediatric patients’ hands. In the media and the collective imagination, nursing is a relationship-oriented, physical job, so it’s jarring to learn that more than half (56%) of a front-line worker’s time is spent accessing and updating patient records, according to a recent survey by the tech firm SOTI.


The chasm between perception of the nurse’s role and reality can lead to a disconnect that leaves patients feeling neglected and nurses feeling disillusioned. Automating key processes can help healthcare facilities support staff amid the current nursing shortage. It can also help to reverse the trends in how nurses are spending their time.


Less time performing manual administrative processes can remove some of the stress on nurses and other caregivers. And with less-stressful environments, we may also be able to retain more nurses and attract more people to the field, easing the burden on existing staff and helping the talent pipeline flow to meet demand. 

Promoting patient-centric care

Automation processes can enable timely and accurate decisions that free nurses to focus on establishing and maintaining strong relationships with patients, which help build patient trust. A 2021 study by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago found that about half of the mistrust toward providers stemmed from feelings that providers are not listening to their patients, understanding their concerns or spending enough time with them.


An effective digital transformation strategy can not only increase the number of patient-nurse interactions, but their quality as well. Striving for more personalized and connected care options can also help close quality gaps among different patient demographics.


In addition, automation can help patients stay connected beyond a healthcare facility’s four walls. CVS Health’s Next Best Action program sends personalized notifications to patients and providers to provide members with information to support their treatment programs. For example, it might provide information about postpartum depression resources to new mothers in the weeks following delivery, or it may alert a clinician if a patient did refill a prescribed medication. Such an automated approach provides an additional resource for clinicians, helping to ensure patients feel supported, even when they aren’t in the office being seen by nurses and doctors.


Nurses are the backbone of the American healthcare system. Due to an aging workforce, a high-stress work environment and inadequate faculty for training initiatives, nurses are in short supply. Industry-wide digital transformation, including everything from automation processes that free up nurses’ time to supplementary digital tools that help keep patients on track with their care plans, hold the potential to promote more patient-centric care, while also improving the talent pipeline.

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