Hospital capacity planning also requires enabling your frontline staff

Technology solutions are often described as part of a three-legged stool, with people and process comprising the other legs. While technology is the enabler, people and processes must also be in sync in order for the technology to have the intended impact on operational improvement. Without all three, the strategy is unstable and will quickly fail. Technology used for hospital capacity planning is no different.

In health system capacity management solutions, the three legs of the stool are physical capacity, patient throughput, and frontline staff. Most capacity management initiatives focus on two legs – physical capacity (beds, procedural areas) and patient throughput – but fail to incorporate alignment of frontline staff.

Optimizing hospital capacity is not just about patient flow, but is equally reliant on staff capacity. Patients, physical space, and staff must be continuously coordinated in order to truly impact efforts to improve hospital capacity planning. 

By overlooking what should be the obvious miss – staffing – too many organizations are still relying on short-term improvement strategies that fail to consider all components of effective capacity optimization. Organizations have traditionally relied on consultants to get people and processes in sync. Firms are hired, process improvements are implemented, and attempts to change culture are made. Initial improvements are achieved, but over time, the organization slowly falls back to the suboptimal performance they were trying to fix.

Preparing your frontline nursing team for optimal hospital capacity planning

Because optimizing capacity is not just about physical space and patient flow, it is equally reliant on alignment of your frontline nursing team. The ultimate issue is that frontline leaders still lack both the data and time to align and activate their teams for what’s coming. In speaking with these leaders, they consistently tell us if they only knew what to expect in advance, they could make appropriate strategic staffing decisions instead of always being in firefighting mode. 

The Hospital IQ platform lets leaders from all disciplines involved know what’s coming so that all three legs of the stool are considered. With the ability to dynamically adjust capacity, prepare staff, and remove operational silos, the end result is sustainable capacity management improvement for the organization. This preparedness is delivered to everyone involved in holistic capacity management – from those involved in managing physical capacity, to coordinators who must prioritize and manage which discharges in which units will be most impactful, to nurse leaders and staffing offices who must identify staffing misalignments and effectively allocate staff based on patient care needs. 

This frontline staff alignment in the hospital capacity planning equation is especially relevant now because of the staffing issues that virtually all health systems are experiencing. In fact, in today’s environment more so than ever, many organizations I work with tell me it’s not uncommon to close beds due to staffing. That’s a bed that can take care of a patient, that’s a bed for your transfer, that’s a bed for a step-down candidate. For all of the operational issues health systems face, I hear more about the bottlenecks that happen when you simply don’t know what to expect and the associated chaos created when hospital capacity crises arise than any other concern.

 

Hospital IQ prepares your nursing teams to take action

To materially impact patient flow and capacity, organizations must have accurate and accessible demand and capacity projections. At Hospital IQ, forecasting is foundational to our inpatient offering. This data is used to automatically identify census issues across the health system to help predict, automate, and activate teams to address issues before they happen.

Activating teams means that we must make sure they are prepared to take action. While having the ability to view predictions is great, it’s when you embed these predictions into everyday workflows that organizations start to see operational improvements. So in addition to a system-wide overview, Hospital IQ enables customized notifications for key stakeholders to be made aware of predicted surge events within specific areas of the hospital. This enables more action-oriented activities, giving managers the ability to quickly understand the state of their unit including current staffing, capacity bottlenecks, and planned discharges prior to events like the daily bed huddle. 

 

Impact hospital capacity planning with Hospital IQ: Connect people and drive efficiency 

To materially impact patient flow and hospital capacity planning, organizations must be able to dynamically adjust physical AND human resource capacity to meet patient needs and improve efficiencies in a sustainable way. 

Enabling your nursing leaders to dynamically manage their staffing is the key to unlocking the organization’s ability to truly optimize and sustain operational performance improvement. Getting the right people in the right place at the right time protects core staff and creates a better working environment. You train your staff to work on a unit. They’re experts in working on their unit, they can deliver care on their unit better than anyone in that organization because they know that unit, they know the protocols, they know everything about it. When you can do this, the result is optimized capacity, better patient care, and a more satisfied nursing workforce, ultimately leading to smoother operations for everyone involved.

From accurate demand and capacity projections, to optimizing discharge practices, to ensuring staffing alignment, the Hospital IQ platform is hardwired with best practices, workflows, and automated actions for inpatient capacity management and staffing optimization. The result is a turnkey solution that prepares you for what’s coming and delivers the ability to dynamically manage capacity, prepare your staff, and remove operational silos, creating long-term, sustainable improvement in how your hospital works. 

 

If you’re interested in learning how to unlock hidden capacity from both physical and human resources and transform the way your health system works, get in touch. We can  show you a demo, review results from other hospitals like yours, or connect you for a chat with an expert who has walked in your shoes.  Take the next step to optimize your hospital capacity planning here.

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