Transforming Healthcare Through Task Redefinition: Rethinking roles needs to be on the agenda.

Authored By:

Geir Arnhoff, CEO of Dossier

Geir Arnhoff


Last week the Dossier team in Norway hosted a webinar spotlighting task distribution in healthcare as key to resolving soaring capacity and staff shortage challenges. Rethinking of roles and responsibilities of healthcare team members is as critical as compliance, policy, and regulations.

Rethinking roles and responsibilities must be approached from multiple angles. Each solution is only available if healthcare organizations are structured and operate differently.

However, with hospitals in the U.S. facing nurse turnover rates climbing above 20% annually and total spending a staggering >$5 billion on temporary nursing staff from agencies, rethinking task distribution is one approach that could help to equalize workload and allow team members to focus on their most critical functions.

It is essential to be open-minded for healthcare to equalize workloads while successfully maintaining the quality of care.

Last week’s webinar drew an incredible number of attendees from the Nordic region, demonstrating the magnitude of the resource challenges and the need for productive dialog and debates. A few years ago, this topic may not have been well received. One silver lining from the pandemic is that change is possible, and it starts with rethinking.

A Practical and Operational Mindset

What can we take away from last week’s discussion? Here is a set of actionable initiatives that can move the needle:

  1. Enhanced Patient Care
    Different countries have their terms and approaches, but at the core introducing roles like “Patient Care Technicians” to manage routine tasks can create time for nurses to address more complex patient care. Studies have shown that such approaches can increase patient satisfaction scores by more than 10%. These changes also contribute to overall nurse satisfaction. They find more enjoyment in their roles and value that the changes support competency requirements of nurses. Dossier had the pleasure over the last year of supporting similar efforts for pharmacies that sought to streamline the training and onboarding of pharmacy technicians. This was done in the U.S. via a joint venture with ASHP.
  2. Boosted Staff Morale and Efficiency
    Some organizations are introducing “Clinical Unit Coordinators” who ease administrative duties, which helps to reduce burnout among clinicians. Clinicians often know what to do and how to do it, but having access to Clinical Unit Coordinators who can assist and finish tasks can boost performance. This tactic has profoundly impacted nurse retention and even the total salary cost.
  3. Promotion of Professional Development
    Roles such as “Clinical Leaders” and “Subject Matter Experts” provide nurses and other clinical staff opportunities for professional growth, recognition and an engaging work environment. Organizations such as ANCC, ANPD, ASHP and ENA are great examples of leveraging the value of professional development to benefit employers, staff members and patients. Career development must be on the table to retain staff in the long run and sustain consistent, high-quality care. Without continuity and seniority the ability for highly needed optimization and advancement from task redefinitions become very slim.
  4. Economic Benefits
    Though new roles bring added payroll expenses, they will save hospitals money long term by reducing the reliance on temporary staffing agencies which come with high markup, and the cost of turnover due to burnout. When clinical staff aren’t tied up in administrative duties, they can focus on high-value tasks and use their competencies. It makes room for better pay, which is unavoidable with today’s inflation and increased costs of living.
  5. AI and Augmented Operational Efficiency
    We have to discuss the potential of technology in the future of healthcare. It is well known that too much time is spent filling out and managing healthcare paperwork. In rethinking task distribution, we need to consider work done by AI and other technology equivalent to work performed by humans. Filling out forms is a waste of human brain power and hands. At Dossier, we make and deliver a digital competency management platform that eliminates paper for educators, managers, and staff members. We promise to do whatever we can to use new technology to ease the work of healthcare staff.

The impact of AI and the future of work is on every executive’s lips. Key topics across all industries are which jobs will vanish and which will emerge. There are two sides of the equation. There needs to be value creating jobs available for people to make a living and the jobs available need to be attractive. The other side of the equation is that people must be adequately trained for their jobs. As the environment continues to shift, there needs to be a way to train people quickly. Competency starts with mastering a task. Decoding task proficiency into actionable training plans is key, and we, at Dossier are here to help!

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