In brief

In brief

  • There are 4 million nurses in the United States, which comprises one-third of all healthcare professions—but there is a talent shortage.
  • Nurses are burning out and it is costing the US health system between $9B to $14B annually.1
  • Automation technology in nursing can free up 20% of repetitive, lower complexity tasks and unlock ~$50B in potential annual value.2


A growing profession

Nursing leaders are facing numerous challenges that can trap value within a healthcare enterprise. Nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession and is expected to grow faster than the average of all occupations, and at least by 15%, by 2030.3

While the profession is growing—so is its talent gap. The nursing talent shortage indicates an inequitable distribution of the nursing workforce across the United States, representing an acute problem at the state level.

Twenty-four percent of ICU nurses tested positive for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and 26% of emergency nurses and 30-35% of oncology nurses are burned out.

Nurses are under immense pressure

Nurses are burning out and it is costing the US health system between $9B to $14B annually. A noteworthy 35% of nurses reported burnout, which can have impact on quality, safety and healthcare system performance.4

Interestingly, nurses who perceived a high level of reliance for tasks reported more burnout. Technology applied to simple, low-value tasks can minimize the burden placed on nurses, and more nurses are open to it. The nursing workforce is evolving, trending toward a younger, more educated group of professionals eager to adopt digital ways of working, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic processing automation.

Nursing employment is growing faster than the average for all occupations in the US.

Technology can change the prognosis

Given the growing need for nurses, the rising shortage of talent and the increase in burnout, the future may look bleak for nursing—but technology can be the key to unlock value that is currently trapped in the enterprise.

In the near future, nurses could be using a variety of cutting-edge technologies to optimize workflow and enhance the patient experience throughout the day—helping patients rather than staring at computer screens. Some pioneers in the industry have already begun to use technology in myriad ways to eliminate wasted time, improve the patient experience and avail precious time for higher value activities.

Automation technology in nursing can free up 20% of repetitive, lower complexity tasks and unlock ~$50B in potential annual value, according to our estimates.

Start today

A strong nursing workforce, enabled with the right technology tools to make their jobs easier and more rewarding, will contribute to more streamlined operations and better collaboration within the healthcare enterprise. The opportunity is there. It is time to start building your nursing workforce of the future.

1Vocera, National Taskforce for Humanity in Healthcare: The Business Case for Humanity in Healthcare; April 2018

2Accenture Analysis 2019 (using data from ONET, Bureau of Labor Statistics, & Accenture Strategy 2030 Healthcare Workforce Research)

3U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses; September 2019

4Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine; January to February 2018

About the Authors

Stacy Blanchard

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization


Sig Shirodkar

Managing Director – Talent & Organization/Human Potential Services for Health, Life Sciences and Public Service


Yvena Atkins

Strategy Manager – Accenture Strategy & Consulting, Healthcare


Alma Almanza

Strategy Consultant, Accenture Strategy & Consulting – Talent & Organization

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