Long before the pandemic began, a shift started occurring in healthcare; an evolution of the nursing profession that introduced new opportunities to licensed staff, deviating from traditional patient care. While these innovative roles are enticing and serve to strengthen hospital operations by expanding skill sets and meeting previously unaddressed needs, these positions are creating further strain on care delivery. Staff shortages were already plaguing the industry and now nursing advancement is another element that organizations must navigate.
This time of year, checklists help manage the back-to-school madness. They provide structure and direction on preparing for the coming year, especially while parents and students alike are still preoccupied with maximizing the waning days of summer. Checklists are also effective in other areas – they transcend in application and detail the elements required and/or steps to be taken in order to reach a goal.
Demand in healthcare, by nature, can be hard to predict. A fundamental part of care delivery is being prepared for the unexpected, whether that be the effects of a natural disaster, large-scale safety event, or global pandemic. However, that does not mean that daily staffing patterns and annual budgets should be buffered to accommodate the “what-ifs.
Love is in the air, and in healthcare, change is always on the horizon. A focus on productivity and workforce optimization may be part of your organization’s 2021 initiatives, but you may be personally struggling with getting behind the proposed strategies. You are not alone – many industry leaders and professionals have a love/hate relationship with performance improvement.
Many healthcare leaders believe that the term “minimum staffing” is the result of performance improvement initiatives aimed at doing more with less. It is actually a critical component of any department’s operations and should be considered in all productivity strategies and staffing-based decisions. Minimum staffing levels indicate the number of manhours across each job code category in a department, regardless of patient census or workload, necessary to operate safely and efficiently.
At ATLIUS, we stress the importance of having the right person, in the right place, performing the right task, for the right clinical outcome. This approach is then ultimately supported by having the right productivity target in place. The question is, how do you determine each departmental target so that it results in the highest level of efficiency and the best overall outcomes? While there are various ways to establish productivity targets, we have seen the strongest performers follow our primary approach to target setting: varying targets by department.
According to a recent article, the turnover rate in the healthcare industry has increased by 5% across all job categories over the last decade. With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the operations of hospitals and health systems, it is safe to assume that these rates will continue to rise. Considering how time-consuming and costly recruitment efforts can be, especially given the ever-shrinking candidate pool that presently exists, it is critical that healthcare leaders appropriately manage the employees that they do have.
What does "Best Practice" mean in the healthcare environment? Just as in any other field, "Best Practice" is the commitment to using all the knowledge, processes, data, and technology at one's disposal to ensure success. However, let's take that one step further and note that this success must be realized in the most efficient manner possible to make a difference to your organization's bottom line. Controlling costs through the proper utilization of resources and minimization of waste are ways that hospitals and health systems are achieving "Best Practice" status.
The U.S. Healthcare System is currently wasting an estimated $765 Billion (23% of what is spent) per year due to inefficient operations! Surprisingly, the majority of this waste is not being generated by pricing failures and supply chain issues, but through workflow and labor management deficiencies.
The financial impacts of COVID-19 are unprecedented, crippling the operations of most healthcare organizations and leaving leaders to answer serious questions about strategies for stabilization. One of the quickest, most effective solutions is through workforce optimization. Improving performance by enhancing productivity and implementing processes to control labor costs will help hospitals and health systems to rebound in a systematic way that not only meets patient demand but ensures the right resources are in place to provide the best care.