How can Healthcare Facilities Prepare for the Next Wave of the Pandemic

A nurse putting on surgical gloves
Cheryl Lee
October 8, 2022
1 min read
A nurse putting on surgical gloves

‘Twindemic’ is a phenomenon Australian healthcare facilities are experiencing this year given the surge in COVID-19 cases along with a severe flu season.

Now, the already heated system is feeling added pressure after more than 8,500 COVID-positive staff have been isolated.  

Effects of twindemic on Australian healthcare facilities

Staff burnout

In response to the record breaking cases and staffing shortages, nurses are taking on 18-hour shifts instead of 16 hours. This is taking a toll on them and is exacerbating the effects of burnout. Moreover, in some cases, nurses are placed in positions beyond their specialisation, paving the way for mistakes to happen.

Overtime, the effects of burnout can materialise in the form of poor patient care, increased absenteeism and a toxic work environment.

Reduced patient care quality

The effects of staffing shortage is clear – you have an overcrowded waiting room with frustrated patients not knowing when it’s their turn. What’s worse is patients with varying conditions are placed in the same room. This can result in negative patient satisfaction.

To help healthcare facilities overcome these challenges, governments are turning to third-year nursing students to relieve COVID-positive staff. However, these students will require some time to condition themselves to the high pace and high stress working environment.

Therefore, reduced patient care quality is expected when facilities have backlogged veteran nurses and newcomers who are learning the ropes.

healthcare facilities
Bed block can lead to reduced patient satisfaction.

Bed block

‘Bed block’ occurs when there are no beds available for new patients resulting in the clogging of the emergency department. This is the exact issue Australian healthcare facilities are facing.

In some instances, more than 100 patients do not have access to a hospital bed.

This results in medical practitioners having to make do with limited space and manpower while attending to a crowd of frustrated patients. Not only is the lack of bed contributing to poor patient experience, it is also causing added stress for nursing staff.

Safety hazards and nosocomial infection are also expected since patients are treated in a non-ideal situation.

What can healthcare facilities do?

Adopt digital queuing

The immediate impact of ‘bed block’ is similar to staffing shortage. You are bound to have frustrated patients when you have a crowded emergency room with patients who are waiting endlessly for their turn.

Hence, it is pivotal to have proper queue management in place.

Through the real-time updates feature in Zipline’s Digital Queuing, it equips patients with greater transparency which reduces their stress, and enhances their experience. This also reduces the tendency for patients to approach nursing staff for updates.

From a nursing staff perspective, there are fewer distractions, which allows them to better focus on their tasks.

Our Digital Queuing also enables healthcare facilities to effectively triage and provide priority queuing for urgent cases. Likewise, facilities can gain insights on which area requires greater manpower to reduce waiting time.

healthcare facilities
When doctors, nurses and patients feels appreciated, it translates into positive sentiments.

Show appreciation

During such an intense period, display of appreciation is not a luxury. Instead, conveying appreciative feelings to understanding patients and hardworking staff is a form of support to them.

The display of appreciation can motivate staff members, make them feel valued, and reduce the tendency of burnout. Similarly, patients feel they are cared for despite the stressful situation, which contributes to a more collaborative environment.

Research shows motivated nurses tend to have greater work productivity. This results in good patient outcomes which contributes to better patient experience.  

Another effect of appreciation is staff retention, which is critical given the staffing shortages. Although facilities may turn to agency nurses to replace existing nurses, a potential problem is higher costs.

Nevertheless, the display of affection should not be a one-time off task. Rather, facilities should demonstrate such an act even on a regular basis.

Adopt a visitor management system

A lot of things can go unnoticed when your hospital has a crowded corridor and limited manpower. Unrestricted personnels may enter restricted areas which increases safety risks. Patients with different symptoms placed in the same waiting room increase their exposure to other viruses.  

To resolve these issues, you should adopt Zipline’s visitor management system. We have various features to help you boost your operational efficiency with limited staff involvement. Our features include pre-arrival checks, evidence management, easy and fast check-ins, and health screenings.

Furthermore, our facility management function includes real time monitoring. This provides you with insights on what is happening on the ground, and is useful when managing crowd control.

Beyond the features mentioned above, we have reporting functions to help manage compliance efficiently.

This is why having a visitor management software is crucial especially when you are facing staffing shortages and experiencing pandemic peak.

Experience tracker allows you to identify shortfalls and improve them

Improve staff and patients experience

We know the presence of twindemic is going to affect staff and patients’ experience. However, identifying the extent of the impact is difficult when you have so many areas to address. Hence, having an experience tracker becomes important.

An experience tracker allows healthcare facilities to gain a better understanding of what their staff and patients are looking for. This allows your management team to rank, prioritise and address the issues promptly.

Zipline’s tracker has features such as customisable feedback for different groups, omni-channel solutions, powerful reporting and more!

This allows you to understand multiple groups without spending manual effort to gather feedback. Moreover, our powerful reporting tool helps you save time from going through long reports by consolidating the feedback into actionable insights.

In summary

We have witnessed the emergence of new COVID variants several times, and this is likely to remain the case for quite a while.

Through adopting software such as digital queuing, visitor management and experience tracking, healthcare facilities can effectively manage the surge in cases during stressful times.

Additionally, these software products can help facilitate patient experience thus increasing patient satisfaction.

Want to learn more about how Zipline can help you? Chat with us today!

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