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Addressing Clinic Staffing Shortages

Since 2008, the number of essential staff employed by state and local health departments has dropped by 40,000. According to the de Beaumont Foundation, the drop is due largely to a lack of funding and unwieldy hiring processes. A more detailed report issued by the National Institutes of Health finds additional reasons for community health worker attrition, including workplace environment and job satisfaction.


This leaves public health administrators in a tough spot. They need full staffs to plan for and respond to health emergencies while also addressing the daily needs of their communities. Unfortunately, with the number of public health nurses and workers declining, there are fewer soldiers in the war against community disease. Short-staffed clinics exacerbate the problem as stress levels ratchet up and working conditions decline, prompting resignations.


A Healthier Work Environment


Although the funding issue is largely outside clinic leaders’ realms of influence, workplace environment and job satisfaction are areas they can improve. Doing so can boost staff retention and make their clinic a more appealing option for those considering a new position.


Immunization procedures are a case in point. The time required to perform all the tasks around documentation far outweighs the time nurses can spend with their patients. They have less time to educate patients and to help them feel cared for. Also, manual processes increase the likelihood of errors that add to workloads and increase stress and frustration.


Less Time Charting, More Time with Patients


This is an area where ezEMRx technology can make a big difference. So much of the work in a typical public health clinic requires transferring data from one device to another, one program to another – or in some cases one piece of paper to another. Each transfer takes time away from providing hands-on care, the very activity that drew your staff to serving in your clinic in the first place.


Automating data entry and transfer frees up time for nurses to operate more at the top of their license and for staff to accomplish more in their day.


Enter Once, Transfer Multiple Times


Interacting with immunization registries is just one example of an area where much labor can be saved through automation and interoperability. ezEMRx is designed for community health clinics allows for automated syncing with immunization registries.


That means it’s no longer necessary to print out daily vaccination records and batch them for manual input to registries later. The update happens automatically when the staff member closes out the patient record after vaccination.


Automatic linking to registries also means nurses can view in the patient record complete vaccination history, including everything previously reported to registries. It’s no longer necessary to exit the system and log in to another program or refer to the patient’s paper file. At a glance, they can see what vaccinations are needed for today’s appointment, per the CDC schedule, and which are due in the future.


This automation carries over into the entire patient record; data previously entered automatically populates on subsequent screens, eliminating the need to re-key information, which also reduces the incidence of typos and other data entry errors that create rework and staff frustration.


Syncing your EHR with the immunization registries is just one way automation and interoperability can boost staff satisfaction. If you’d like to learn more, ezEMRx can help.


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