By Deepak Sharma
Nursing has become an important part of the healthcare industry post COVID. As technology takes center stage in nursing after the pandemic outbreak, the profession has gone through significant changes. The transformation in nursing care calls for a dire need to upskill healthcare workers across the world. Right from monitoring patients remotely to using tools to understand a patient’s needs, hospitals need to train their nurses following huge technological intervention in the post-COVID era.
How nursing has become an important part of healthcare industry post-COVID?
Nurses account for more than half of all the world’s health workers, providing vital services throughout the health system, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO)1. Not only in the past, but today as well, nurses are at the forefront of fighting epidemics and pandemics that threaten health and human life across the globe. As nurses around the world responded to an unprecedented crisis with bravery and courage, never has their value been more clearly demonstrated.
Nurses are the backbone of any health system, and they were on the frontline in battle against the pandemic. Today, there are just under 28 million nurses worldwide. Nursing numbers increased by 4.7 million worldwide between 2013 and 2018, but this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million. The greatest gaps have been found in countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region as well as some parts of Latin America.
Why is their upskilling needed? How will it transform patient care?
Well trained nurses with certifications in Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support can make a huge difference in a hospital’s ability to successfully deal with critical care and emergency. While imparting such skills has been a time-taking and costly process for hospitals including training and equipment, technology disruption has enabled digital learning solutions for healthcare professionals. Today, there are complete online resuscitation and cardiac training modules for hospital staff that has made upskilling faster and better. Upskilling nurses can also solve the care home crisis due with an increase in elderly population. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital staff had their own share of challenges, especially for at home care for the senior population, so a re-imagined care with the help of technology can make a whole lot of difference.
Apart from that, upskilling is imminent in the era of telehealth, when nurses should be able to monitor and analyse the body parameters of a distant patient and raise an alarm by quickly informing doctor in case of emergency. The nurses will be able to handle a critical situation only if they are aware of new technologies such as wearable bands, computers, tablets, or smartphones.
What are the initiatives taken by countries other than India?
While the upskilling or reskilling concept is relatively new to the US healthcare industry, other countries like India have been using upskilling with great success. During the pandemic an online upskilling initiative had prepared over 1 lakh Indian nurses to fight COVID-19. Apart from India, several other countries also focused on upskilling their nurses to manage and tackle an unprecedented health crisis. Countries like the US and the UK launched dedicated courses to empower their nurses to handle the worst of the pandemic. Europe has also recognized the need for upskilling to meet shortages in patient care.
Tools hospitals can invest in to upskill their nurses
Upskilling is the best investment for hospitals in the post COVID era. From recording audios to translating them using tools to understand a patient’s needs, nurses are using as many tools as possible today. This rapid use of technology began after the pandemic outbreak in the form of a knee-jerk reaction by the healthcare sector. Hospitals can also invest in such tools to upskill their nurses, to take the patient care at a new level. For instance, if a patient is from another country or state, nurses can be trained in using specific tools or software that can translate what they are saying and then cater to their needs.
Similarly, virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence enabled tools can be used by nurses to transform the patient care. Recently, IIT Madras had joined hands with the state unit of the National Health Mission (NHM) to prevent maternal and neonatal deaths and improve the overall health of newborn babies and their mothers by upskilling healthcare workers.
According to a report2, nursing make up 50 per cent of the healthcare workforce and by 2022, it will be the most in demand profession in the US. The pandemic presented its own challenges but transformed the nursing more than ever. Upskilling nurses by harnessing technology and developing new care models will help hospitals and for this they will need to invest in training and tools to empower their healthcare staff. Nursing professionals also need to upgrade and reskill themselves in order to keep up with the growing demand of skilled nurses.
(The author is a Co-founder & CEO of MedLern. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)