The High Cost of Registered Nursing Turnover—and How Automation Can Help

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Automation

The need for nurses will never decrease. Challenges in nurse staffing were already apparent before the pandemic with long hours and stressful situations leading to burnout. However, the pandemic brought registered nursing turnover to a new level. Healthcare workers have experienced some of the greatest losses of any group during this time. 

The rate of registered nurse turnover is creating a costly burden on healthcare systems across the country. It’s not only a financial cost; it’s also impacting patient care and outcomes. As the healthcare industry attempts to rebound, it will need new tools to recruit and retain registered nurses. One key factor will be automation, which can reduce administrative strains on these employees when deployed.

Registered Nurses Turnover: What the Data Says

Data regarding registered nurse turnover paints a bleak picture. According to the 2022 National Nursing Solutions (NSI) National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report:

  • More than 80 percent of hospitals report an RN vacancy rate above 10 percent.
  • The overall RN vacancy rate currently stands at about 17 percent.
  • The average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is about $46,000.
  • The annual cost of RN turnover for the average hospital is over $7 million.
  • The average time to recruit an experienced RN was three months. 

These are alarming statistics that show the impact of turnover. The demand for skilled nurses is at an all-time high in the country. 

Experts expect shortages to increase. The American Journal of Medical Quality reported that the U.S. will experience a lack of registered nurses reaching 510,394 by 2030. The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that the world shortage may be as high as 5.7 million nurses by 2030.

Those who have left the field or are currently considering leaving are doing so because of burnout. Almost half of health professionals at LCMC Health surveyed in 2021 reported feelings of burnout.

With such demands on these caregivers and the regulatory demands and increased documentation to support medical necessity, it’s no surprise that nurses are reaching their breaking points. 

Many healthcare systems are working to devise strategies to attract new people to nursing and develop retention approaches, but they may not have an immediate effect. Innovative use of automation could have a direct impact much faster.

Automation’s Role in Mitigating Registered Nurse Turnover

Healthcare systems are looking to technology to reduce the impact of registered nurse shortages and burnout. They are implementing automation to reduce administrative burdens, streamline workflows, and support recruitment. The healthcare industry has found great success with automation, and it can add great value to the industry’s efforts to combat nursing turnover.

Automation solutions include:

  • Robotic process automation (RPA), which uses digital robots to take over mundane, repetitive tasks
  • Intelligent process automation (IPA), which combines RPA with AI technologies, including optical character recognition (OCR), natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning
  • Process mining, which helps organizations understand all steps in a process through data logs to identify automation opportunities

Automation and Reducing Administrative Burdens

Leveraging automation can reduce the number of administrative tasks registered nurses must perform daily. Spending precious time on data entry can quickly feel like a burden for nurses, who mostly get into nursing because they want to interact with people, not spreadsheets. Scalable automation could improve retention by allowing nurses to spend more time with patients than computer screens.

Ashling Partners’ support of healthcare systems with automation has demonstrated that it works to reduce admin work. 44% of administrative tasks carried out by staff in general practice are ‘mostly’ or ‘completely’ automatable. If nurses get that time back, they can be more connected to their roles, experiencing more meaningful work.

Automation and RN Recruitment and Onboarding

RPA, coupled with other technology solutions, can significantly improve recruiting and onboarding processes for nurses. Additionally, automation can analyze and prioritize potential candidates, upload resumes to your applicant tracking software, and screen candidates for the best fit. With this help from technology, the quality of registered nurse candidates and RN candidate response rates can improve.

Processes associated with candidate selection, onboarding, and IT provisioning also have high automation potential.

Registered Nurse Turnover: Change the Outlook with Automation

Intelligent automation is a technology that healthcare should embrace to combat the registered nursing shortage. It can streamline workflows to prevent administrative burnout and provide great benefits in the recruitment and onboarding processes. Nurses who have more time to focus on patients and connect to why they chose this career path will naturally be more fulfilled and less likely to burn out and seek other opportunities.

To learn more about how to deploy automation, contact our experts today for a consultation.

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