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  • Writer's pictureOzzie Paez

Solutions for military nursing shortages

Our continuing work on the nursing shortage crisis has focused on public and private hospitals. The results are equally applicable to the US Department of Defense (DoD), which is experiencing shortages of nurses at its base and VA hospitals[i],[ii]. The shortage could affect readiness and the military’s capacity to support operations during wartime. Unlike their civilian counterpart, DoD’s operations include surging its medical reach to support Forward Surgical Teams and Combat Surgical Hospitals.


Supporting front-line combat units in the face of severe nursing shortages may involve the clinical version of robbing Peter to pay Paul. According to Dr. Jerome Adams, former Surgeon General under the Trump administration, the impacts of DoD’s nursing shortage range from “…an inability for people who are on remote bases to get care, like mammograms and basic procedures, to …retirees who still get their care on military bases. You’re not going to be able to attract doctors and nurses to every location…” NewsNation Interview, February 7, 2023.

DoD’s coping strategy parallels the civilian sector’s approach. It includes attracting new nurses by paying education costs and reducing attrition through better pay and retention bonuses[iii]. Both are promoting nursing as a profession to increase the number attending and graduating from academic institutions. While reasonable, their approach is constrained by nursing school capacity and time requirements. In other words, increasing the supply of nurses and competing for a limited talent pool are not practical short-term solutions for the existing crisis.


We believe, based on military experience and three years of work on this issue, that DoD is uniquely capable of pioneering innovative technologies to improve clinical staff productivity, efficiency, and quality of care. More specifically, the US military’s culture, adaptability under pressure, and logistics mastery create the predicate for leveraging technological innovations to reengineer clinical care in combat and non-combat environments.


For example, Biobeat’s cuffless cardiovascular sensors, analytics, and management systems support continuous triage, patient health scoring, clinician-configured alarms, and patient priority management. They also empower facilities within a shared ecosystem to support one another. In this context, these capabilities serve as capacity multipliers in response to peak demands for care. Biobeat’s innovative remote patient monitoring technologies proved the concept when they were successfully deployed during the ongoing war in Ukraine. Doctors in Tel Aviv supported Israeli humanitarian field hospitals by providing consultations from over 1,200 miles[iv].


In summary, waiting for more nurse graduates and competing over limited talent pools are not practical near-term strategies for coping with the nursing crisis. These conclusions apply to DoD and civilian providers alike. A more compelling alternative would leverage innovative new technologies to improve clinical workflow efficiencies, staff productivity and care delivery[v],[vi]. Our experiences with Biobeat’s technologies suggest that reengineering care delivery to exploit innovative new technologies offers practical near-term solutions.


For more information see Biobeat Cuffless Blood Pressure Monitoring, Ambulatory Profiling, and Remote Patient Monitoring Solutions on our Documents page.

Providers and clinicians can contact us for more information and demonstrations through our website and directly by reaching out to me at ozzie@oprhealth.com / 1+303-332-5363.


References

[i] Margaret C. Wilmoth, Jeffrey Phillips, Nurses are in critically short supply in the Defense Department — will Congress act?, February 15, 2023, The Hill, https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/3856126-nurses-are-in-critically-short-supply-in-the-defense-department-will-congress-act/ [ii] Karen Jowers, Military must find new ways to deal with medical personnel shortages, January 30, 2023, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2023/01/30/military-must-find-new-ways-to-deal-with-medical-personnel-shortages/ [iii] Christina Orlovsky, Army Seeks Nurses, Expands Benefits, accessed March 20, 2023, rn.com, https://w3.rn.com/Pages/ResourceDetails.aspx?id=3459 [iv] Ozzie Paez, Remote Patient Monitoring in War Zones, July 5, 2022, OPRHealth, https://www.oprhealth.com/post/remote-patient-monitoring-in-war-zones [v] Ozzie Paez, The nursing crisis: practical solutions, March 3, 2023, OPRHealth, https://www.oprhealth.com/post/the-nursing-crisis-practical-solutions [vi] Ozzie Paez, How hospitals can cope with peak demands, August 23, 2022, OPRHealth, https://www.oprhealth.com/post/how-hospitals-can-cope-with-peak-demands

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