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Reinventing care delivery to help solve the nursing shortage

The nursing shortage is a global health emergency. By reinventing care delivery using nurse talent and technology, we can solve this critical challenge.


August 4, 2023

Ready for reinvention

The nursing shortage is a global health emergency threatening patient access and outcomes. This crisis will worsen as more clinical workers retire and demand from an aging population rises. The industry may need to replace up to 13 million nurses globally in the coming years.1 Without enough capacity to meet patient demand, today's nurses are experiencing emotional distress and burnout, pushing many to leave the profession.

Healthcare organizations are turning to quick fixes, including costly temporary staff, flexible work schedules and telemedicine. When these short-term solutions don’t work, healthcare providers are forced to shut down units, reduce hours and eliminate clinical programs. These moves limit patient access to care.

The healthcare workforce has reached a breaking point. We must release the pressure on nurses, improve the nurse and patient experience and get people the care they deserve. With a reinvention strategy, we can continuously innovate to solve these issues today, and for the future.

AI-enabled robots can relieve the burden of the tasks nurses complete in a 12-hour shift. They help patients with their daily routines, remind them to take medications and answer medical questions.

Digital and AI solutions: Nurses need them, patients want them

Nurses are open to using digital solutions to enhance their work and improve care delivery. Most clinicians (93%) agree that applying automation to remedy time-intensive documentation processes will be beneficial.2 Automating strategically doesn’t just minimize tasks and boost productivity, it can be a springboard to more meaningful work that taps into nurses’ most valuable skills.

More than half (52%) of clinicians we surveyed believe that AI can improve diagnosis, while 32% think it can enhance procedural accuracy, and 31% noted that it can increase their time with patients.3

Healthcare executives also feel AI models enable better customer experiences (61%), faster decision-making (55%) and enhanced employee capabilities (46%).

Our research also shows that patients and caregivers are interested in digital health tools. This reveals an opportunity to reinvent the tasks of nurses, shifting them to patients through self-service and collaborative solutions.


of clinicians agree that too much time spent on administrative tasks is a major contributor to burnout


of clinicians agree that applying automation to remedy time-intensive documentation processes will be beneficial

Igniting continuous reinvention to solve the nursing shortage

While healthcare organizations cannot solve the entire nursing shortage problem at once, Accenture has identified four critical success factors to help accelerate reinvention:

1. Adopt a strong, modern digital core

Health systems should first establish a strong technology core (data integration, increasing interoperability, ensuring information security and integrating clinical workflows) on which to build digital and AI solutions.

An AI-powered, cloud-based digital core is the foundation for reinvention. Healthcare organizations can first shift from a technology landscape of static, standalone parts to interoperable pieces that are intentionally integrated and leverage the power of cloud, data and AI.

2. Involve nurses in care reinvention from the start

Successfully introducing new technology into healthcare settings requires strong partnerships with nurses to drive adoption and deliver value. Those who will be using the technology in their daily work should be involved from the onset as the people impact is central to reinvention. Early on, identify the right clinical stakeholders whom the solution will impact: nurses, physicians or both. Then intentionally build relationships between these clinical stakeholders and IT.

A large healthcare provider has a virtual command center to support bedside teams by using advanced computer vision and AI technology to continuously monitor patients throughout their hospital stay.

3. Use data to inform investment decisions

In addition to nurse insights, use operational and population health data to find solutions that are affordable, impactful and will save time for nurses. Healthcare organizations use data insights to inform other areas, such as process improvements, market opportunities and organizational model changes, so why not use analytics to find what solutions will transform clinical work? Using AI-enabled applications and platforms to generate insights can help to enhance operational efficiency, improve accuracy and decision making, streamline processes and empower workers by changing how work is done.

4. Revolutionize operating models

Unfortunately, deploying new digital core to increase nursing capacity isn’t straightforward. Accountability and ownership for choosing and implementing technology doesn’t usually sit squarely with one or even two leaders in a medium or large healthcare organization. Making the kinds of changes we need in healthcare today requires boundaryless collaboration to enable successful execution across the enterprise. Reinventors strengthen connections across their organizations.


Tejash Shah, MD

Managing Director – Health

Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD

Senior Managing Director – Consulting Global Health

Shelley Simkins, RN

Management Consulting Senior Manager

Ashish Goel

Senior Managing Director – Health Lead, EMEA

Dr. Travis Grant

Managing Director – Health, Client Lead, Australia and New Zealand