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01 Dec 2022 | 13:00

Key healthcare challenges that call for better frontline communication in 2022 and 2023

Closeup of a nurses uniform

Pressure on our healthcare system is, unfortunately, nothing new. At the centre of the global fight against COVID-19, our frontline healthcare workers have found themselves in increasingly challenging circumstances. Today, facing pressure to deliver higher patient care standards amidst inflation, vice-tight budgets and a shortfall of staff in a market plagued by high turnover, it’s little wonder that healthcare staff suffer from some of the highest stress levels of any occupation. 

While there’s plenty outside of their control, patient-first healthcare organisations are turning their attention to the factors they can control and seeking solutions. Today, we discuss what some of those challenges, and opportunities, look like. 

Short on time? Download our free e-book The Three Realities of Healthcare that Call for Better Frontline Communication, sponsored by Zebra, direct to your inbox for later. Learn about the challenges being faced by our frontline healthcare workers in 2022 and beyond.


What challenges are being faced by frontline healthcare workers in 2022 and 2023? 

Even before the start of the pandemic, the NHS has faced persistent and severe shortfalls in staff. Despite the government investing in more training spaces, which did see nurse recruitment numbers increase briefly, the demand then increased exponentially due to the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time, healthcare providers have been at the centre of the battle against COVID-19, with frontline workers putting their own health and wellbeing on the line to continue their healthcare duties. 

With the world largely in the recovery phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, new data analysis suggests that there’s been a significant increase in the number of nurses leaving the NHS, driven by younger workers. In fact, there are now a record number of 46,000 vacant nursing posts, placing even further pressure on our frontline workers. 

With vacancies at an all-time high, those in the industry find themselves under increasing pressure as the pandemic exacerbated many issues that were already present. While hospitals were initially struggling with acquiring protective equipment and battling an evolving virus with a lack of information, the focus has turned toward staff shortages and mental health challenges. 

While frontline healthcare workers make difficult decisions on a daily basis, the covid-19 outbreak saw nearly every frontline nurse working one to two days a week on top of their existing shift patterns with an increased workload and requirements for higher-level patient care.

The pressure couldn’t continue to build without there being an impact. A survey by the Nursing Times carried out in 2020 found that 33% of the 3,500 nurses that responded rated their mental health and wellbeing as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. In addition to this, 87% of nurses rated their stress levels as ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’ more stressed at work than usual, and 90% said they were experiencing ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’ more anxiety than before the outbreak. 

Data from July 2022 suggests that, despite the spread of COVID-19 slowing, it found that 28% of the 1,089 nurses who responded admitted to feeling overwhelmed at least once a week, with 17% reporting that they felt burned out every day. More than half revealed that they worked over their contracted hours several times a week, and most of those surveyed believed that staff shortages were affecting their quality of patient care. 


Nurses and frontline workers are stretched thin after the covid-19 pandemic

In order to manage, studies have shown that the average nurse comes up with 27 workarounds, or shortcuts, each shift to stay on top of their workload. While the innovation and drive to deliver patient care is admirable, we are all human. Errors happen, essential tasks go undone in favour of handling emergencies, and patient dissatisfaction and nurse burnout emerges.

In addition to this, the communication with both patients and caregivers, which is essential to positive patient outcomes, was heavily impacted by imposed restrictions. Everything from visitation policies to the introduction of masks and social distancing requirements affected the impact of communication between nursing teams, as well as patient-nurse communication, too. Smaller teams, less in-person time, and higher care requirements have led to an increase in burnout, stress, and a decline in patient satisfaction scores. 


A solution: unified communications

While there are, without argument, many circumstances outside of the control of frontline workers, unified mobile solutions can go a great way to helping nurses manage their workload, time, and productivity more effectively than any pager or walkie-talkie. Patient-first health care organisations have turned to unified solutions for mobile devices as a way to help improve patient care and employee satisfaction.

These solutions condense the communication and collaboration function of beepers, desk phones, mobile phones, help buttons and more in a single interface, accessible on a single, enabled, mobile device. This streamlines patient care while maximising efficiency and quality of service.

Smart features that reduce the amount of repetitive, manual, tasks that need to be carried out multiple times an hour are the perfect example of this. Consider how one-touch communication with preset groups such as ‘on duty nurses’ or ‘Patient 3244’s care team’ could reduce the amount of ‘hide-and-seek’ that teams need to play with another. It takes the guesswork out of who’s available, nearby, and required, all at the touch of a button! 

Ready to discuss your communication challenges or needs? Get in touch and talk to a member of our team today. 

Alternatively, get instant access to our free e-book The Three Realities of Healthcare that Call for Better Frontline Communication, sponsored by Zebra.


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