You’ve probably heard of meal planning, where you choose what meals you’ll be eating for the week and then do as much meal prep as possible hours or even days before you plan to serve the meal. With the shopping and chopping done in advance, dinner makes it to the table quickly and easily. Meal planning saves you money on your grocery bill and takeout orders, eliminates evening chaos, leads to healthier eating habits and puts a stop to the hangry.
Just like meal planning saves time and money while improving mealtime moods, predictive staffing uses the power of proactive planning to improve general healthcare workflows, thus achieve better staff and patient outcomes. With the use of predictive analytics, the staffing office and unit managers are equipped to make more informed decisions about staff utilization, leading to staffing strategies that boost staff satisfaction, improve patient care, improve clinical workflows, and protect the bottom line.
Below are three examples of the impact predictive healthcare staffing technologies has on workforce alignment and patient care workflow:
Fine Tuning Shift Changes
At the beginning of each shift, if the staffing office and unit managers are consumed with figuring out who’s working, where the staffing gaps are, and how to deploy staff to meet patient care needs, it negatively impacts the team in many ways:
- The staffing office is chasing data rather than planning strategically.
- Decisions are made in crisis-mode, which can lead to less-than-ideal choices.
- The chronic chaos creates a feeling of schedule desperation in the staffing office and the units.
- Unit managers lose out on time with their staff and patients.
- Staff become frustrated as they’re frequently subjected to last-minute schedule changes and unpredictable work assignments.
Predictive analytics can break this cycle of chaos by providing the staffing office and unit managers with more time, insights and recommendations to make better decisions. A Staffing Assistant at one of our client sites on the East Coast explains what that looks like in action: “I meet with all of the supervisors from each of the four hospitals every day, and we discuss our staff allocation. Now, with predictive staffing, I’m able to look ahead a little bit sooner, and I have more time to be more thoughtful and make stronger decisions about where we should place our staff.”
Workflow process decisions days before the shift
With the day of the shift chaos calmed, the staffing office and unit managers can turn their attention to proactively resolving future staffing issues. Predictive analytics enable your health systems to align staffing with patient needs days before the day of care.
How is that possible? With a highly accurate census forecast that can project patient volumes across the enterprise seven days in advance, staff can better align with projected patient care needs long before the start of each shift. The Manager of Operations at a Midwestern health system shares, “Now we have the ability to be proactive about our staffing needs and the solution helps us assign, or reassign, staff based on the actual demand.”
Below are some of the benefits you can expect when you are proactively matching healthcare staffing technologies to predicted patient census:
- Increased staff satisfaction as a result of more manageable caseloads.
- Improved utilization of staffing resources, reducing the need for overtime and other premium labor.
- Consistent patient care since staff are set up for success and better equipped to meet their needs.
- Better unit leadership because nursing managers can focus their attention where it makes the most impact – on staff and patients.
Proactively manage unit and staffing capacity
Hospital and unit capacity are dependent on whether or not there are enough caregivers to meet patient demand. When staffing plans account for projected patient census and discharge activities, nursing leaders ,staffing coordinators, and other healthcare professionals can proactively determine if there will be enough nurses to care for the patients on the unit and across the enterprise.
This allows them to take preemptive action when understaffing is projected and must be addressed. Options include:
- Resolve the staffing issues before they impact capacity.
- Use premium pay and float staff more strategically.
- Shift to alternate staffing plans that help stretch capacity for short periods of time.
- Open an overflow unit or divert patients.
A health system in Florida is has seen great improvements by taking advantage of the ability to make proactive staffing and capacity adjustments with medical practice management systems. As the Director of Logistics and Patient Throughput explains, “The predictive recommendations are so accurate, we know that we can trust them to help us make better decisions. When we need to open an overflow unit, we don’t disrupt staff or move any patients any sooner than we need to.”
You may not be sold on the benefits of healthcare workflow management just yet, but you and your organization cannot afford to delay the use of predictive analytics to improve your staffing practices. The ability to leverage predictive analytics for accurate decision making up to seven days in advance can enable you to mitigate staffing challenges. With predictive staffing, your healthcare organization can increase staff engagement, manage labor costs and improve the patient experience.
For a closer look at the current staffing challenges health systems are facing and how three health systems are addressing those challenges, check out the white paper, “Overcoming Staffing Challenges with Predictive Analytics: Health System Success Stories.”
Subscribe to the Hospital IQ Newsletter now to receive our latest content like this right in your inbox!