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Addressing the Shortage of Canadian Nurses Through Remote Patient Management

Across Canada, healthcare systems are struggling due to unprecedented nursing shortages. In the past two years, vacancies for nurses in Canada increased by 85.8%. Some of the factors contributing to understaffing are underpayment, mandatory overtime, and poor working conditions.

As hospitals are forced to close and nurses are being stretched thin among patients, an impactful solution will be essential for the health of nurses and their patients.

Solving Shortages With Remote Patient Care

Staffing shortages across Canada will continue to rise if measures are not put in place to improve working conditions and decrease the workload for nurses. Remote patient management is an asset for healthcare systems to help relieve the strain of staffing shortages.

By offering better working conditions, work-life balance, and reduced workload, remote patient management can help hospitals and clinics optimize the nurses already in the Canadian workforce, and encourage new ones to take up the profession.

Extending the Reach of Nurses

Of the Canadian provinces, Ontario’s nurse per capita ratio is suffering the most, with 665 registered nurses per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 814. This shortage is a public health risk as patients can’t always access the attention and in-depth care they require while nurses are caring for more people than they can handle, resulting in stress and burnout.

With remote patient care, nurses can reach more people with less time investment per patient. This is accomplished by allowing nurses to allocate a portion of their workload back onto the patient through tasks like self-assessments of vitals. Furthermore, with the efficiency of remote patient care, time spent looking for patient records can be significantly reduced.

Improving Working Conditions

A survey of Ontario’s nurses found that 95.7% of respondents are reporting high to very high stress levels from working through the global pandemic. The main factors affecting these stress levels are extensive hours, long periods without breaks, and mandatory overtime. Consequently, 13% of nurses aged 26-35 and 4.5% of late-career nurses plan to leave the profession now or retire following the pandemic.

Remote patient management, at times, allows nurses to work from the comfort of their home, meaning they are no longer exposed to illness, excessive physical labor, and other demanding tasks of nursing. When working from home, nurses can take more frequent breaks and naps to reduce anxiety and prevent burnout. Furthermore, working from home adds flexibility to work hours and location.

Overcoming the Nursing Shortages With Remote Patient Management

The added flexibility of remote patient management for nurses can help to promote retention and interest in entering the field. Moving the profession towards remote patient management will ultimately extend the efficiency of each nurse, allowing them to care for all of their patients fully. Protecting the quality of life for nurses will be essential to prevent further declines in the Canadian nursing workforce.

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