The healthcare industry is dealing with another spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations. The ongoing staffing shortage has made patient care challenging. The adoption of remote patient observation technology can alleviate staffing pressure while keeping more patients under the watchful eye of a healthcare professional.
The COVID-19 Spike
The Omicron variant (recently identified in South Africa) has officially been found in six US states: California, Minnesota, Colorado, New York, Hawaii, and Nebraska (Source: NBC Chicago). Scientists are still working to determine how this new variant is likely to affect hospitalizations. Currently, the spike in severe COVID-19 cases is still due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, first identified in the USA in late July of 2021 (Source: NY Times). As of December 3, 2021, the daily average in cases had risen 13% over 14 days, and hospitalizations has risen 18% over 14 days (Source: NY Times). NY Governor Hochul recently signed an executive order giving NY hospitals the authority to cancel elective and non-vital procedures in an attempt to free up hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients (Source: LocalSyr), while other prestigious healthcare organizations like the Cleveland Clinic, the MetroHealth System, and University Hospitals are voluntarily making adjustments to their non-emergent procedures (Source: Newsroom).
This spike in hospitalizations comes right as the immunity afforded by the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines wears off in the general population. Dr. Fauci recently reported an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations for people who are fully vaccinated but not yet boosted (Source: Beckers Hospital Review). Unvaccinated people still make up the majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations (Source: Newsroom).
The Landscape of Healthcare Staffing Shortages
Staffing shortages in the US healthcare industry is not a new problem, but the issue has become much more acute amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. In the early pandemic, the cancellation of elective procedures caused hospital revenues to drop, and staffing cuts were made accordingly. Many furloughed or laid off nurses chose to retire early when they may not have otherwise (Source: USAHS). COVID-19 burnout has also led to mass resignations and nurses leaving their local hospitals for more lucrative travel/contract positions (Source: WSNA). Experts predict that the US will need 1.2 million additional registered nurses by 2030 to effectively address this shortage.
Within hospitals, the nursing shortage is manifesting in forced overtime, nurses with too many patients to reasonably care for, labor strikes, and a decrease in quality of care. This is often horrifying for overburdened nurses who struggle with the morality of providing substandard care amidst an impossible situation.
How Remote Observation Technology Can Keep More COVID-19 Patients Safe Amidst Staffing Shortages
Fortunately, emerging healthcare technology can support shoestring departments by helping existing staff to do more with less. MedSitter is a remote patient observation solution that puts one staff member in front of up to ten patients. The one remote staff member can observe multiple patients at one time, increasing efficiency without sacrificing patient safety. If the remote observer sees something that requires onsite intervention, they can communicate with floor staff directly and ensure that the patient in need receives the care and assistance they require.
This system is immensely useful in COVID-19 units, since it provides a window into the rooms of severely ill COVID-19 patients. Observers can keep an eye on highly infectious patients without risking exposure themselves. Remote observers can easily communicate with patients, which also helps combat feelings of vulnerability and isolation during inpatient stays.
MedSitter helps overburdened clinicians to observe patients in order to meaningfully improve patient safety and satisfaction without further straining staff resources. By making one staff member 10x more efficient, MedSitter helps to combat the staffing crisis caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, while helping to keep patients safe under the watchful eye of a healthcare professional.
As the pandemic continues and staff shortages present an ongoing problem, it is vital to seek technology solutions like MedSitter in order to continue to provide high quality and effective patient care.