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.
This is a question that many Americans have been asking themselves since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; is it better to stay home and visit with a doctor via a telehealth appointment, or is it worth it to venture into the office for a face-to-face visit? Born of necessity, the rapid expansion of the telehealth platform and its increasing popularity over the last 18 months have revolutionized the way that patients are receiving care. Telehealth appears to be one of the positive and lasting impacts of this mass-scale health crisis, widely adopted by providers as a commonplace treatment option. Though an in-person follow-up visit may eventually be required for some specialties, virtual visits have proven to provide the same level and quality of care as their in-person counterparts.
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.
As we bid good riddance to the stress and uncertainty of 2020, it is safe to say that everyone is excited to begin the new year. However, the challenges of last year have helped to guide growth, both personal and professional. That is why it is more important than ever to use the start of 2021 as a time for reflection and evaluation, determining how to further improve upon a foundation forged in the chaos of the pandemic.
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.
In the past five months, we as healthcare professionals have all learned a lot about the human spirit's strength and have been humbled by our ability as an industry to persevere during this crisis. We have also come to realize that COVID-19 is here to stay. This devastating virus is not merely a passing health anomaly that we are working to overcome, but instead a permanent change to which we must adapt.
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.
Many healthcare leaders adopt a "tough love" approach when managing employee performance and expectations. This method may work well for some staff members, but not all will embrace the negativity it can create. Understanding your team and the styles they respond positively to is critical in realizing continued operational success and employee satisfaction.