As we honor and appreciate nurses during Nurses Month, the celebratory spirit of the event is balanced with concerns about how to keep nurses at the bedside as nursing shortages continue to be a challenge. While healthcare systems recognize that increasing staff satisfaction and improved patient turnover need to be priorities, taking action can be tricky. Between the COVID response and recovery, it’s likely that your health system lacks the time, energy, and resources to take on new complex initiatives.

Making meaningful progress to mitigate understaffing challenges does not need to be complicated and time-consuming. At Hospital IQ, we’re focused on helping our clients take quick, decisive action to have a positive impact on staff satisfaction.

With a staffing solution that accurately predicts future staffing needs, health systems can address two key areas that have a powerful impact on employee morale: work/life balance and work environment.

A safer, more productive work environment

When staffing decisions are deliberate and driven by healthcare data and historical data, both staff and leaders move from being reactive to proactive. With an accurate view of census and staffing needs days into the future, unit leaders and staffing coordinators can identify staffing gaps and strategically adjust schedules and unit assignments to cover them. This results in less confusion and uncertainty for the entire team on the day of care.

Our clients have appreciated this ability to be more strategic with their staffing plans during the pandemic. As the Staffing Assistant at a health system in Florida explains, “Thinking about COVID, I could not imagine how chaotic and backwards it would have been if we were trying to plan crisis staffing on paper and communicating via numerous phone calls to every single unit at four hospitals.”

While the ability to plan to future demand has been invaluable to those using the solution during COVID-19, one of the main benefits of predictive analytics is the  impact it will make on nurses’ work environment far beyond the pandemic. The benefits of proactive staffing decisions include:

  • Better resource utilization – Because unit managers have accurate insights into staffing needs as well as enough time to strategize, staffing resources can be optimally deployed based on patient census and available staff.
  • Balanced workloads – When staffing is done in siloes, it’s possible for one area to be understaffed, while at the same time another unit is overstaffed. With an enterprise-wide approach to staffing, both staff and patients benefit from a ‘smoothed out’ schedule that treats all staff equitably.
  • Nursing leaders with the right focus – Addressing daily staffing concerns pulls unit managers and other nursing leaders away from the needs of their staff and patients. When staffing issues no longer require that time and energy during the day of care, nursing leaders can focus on ensuring each unit is running smoothly and addressing employee and patient care needs.

Schedule predictability and flexibility provide a better work/life balance

Imagine having a work schedule that frequently changed at the last minute, leaving your life in a constant state of flux. On top of that frustration, consider how disappointed you would be if your requests for time off were often denied because your employer didn’t have a clear picture of staffing needs – or, your team was so short-staffed, your services were required on the day you were hoping for some well-deserved PTO.

For many nurses, these scenarios are an unfortunate reality. However, at health systems using our predictive staffing solution, the staff benefit from increased schedule predictability and flexibility. There are fewer last-minute schedule changes because staffing needs can be accurately projected and planned for days in advance. And, schedulers and unit managers can be more confident about allowing staff to adapt their work schedule to accommodate personal obligations.

Cultivate a culture that keeps nurses at the bedside

Schedules and staffing strategies can have an enormous impact on nurses’ work/life balance and work environment. The fallout from COVID-19 has amplified these issues and health systems are seeking strategies that stabilize their workforce management. Eliminating schedule frustration can help keep nurses at the bedside and working through treatment plans. Many health systems are using Hospital IQ’s predictive staffing technology (as well as other artificial intelligence and ai)  to support their initiatives to address understaffing while protecting the morale of their front-line staff.

For more information about how to address understaffing, check out the white paper “7 Strategies for Mitigating Understaffing with Predictive Analytics.”

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