How are staffing decisions made in your health system?

  • Proactively or reactively?
  • Data-driven or gut feelings?
  • Calmly and confidently or hair on fire?

Predictive analytics for medical staffing makes decision-making easy

Your workforce is your most valuable asset, and it’s under threat from nursing shortages, burnout and turnover. Yet, many health systems are still using outdated staffing strategies and old technology that lead to reactive decision-making based on inaccurate information.

A predictive staffing solution can provide your team with the tools they need, such as a census forecast, to make proactive, data-driven staffing decisions. The transition can be remarkable. I’d like to illustrate the transformation for one of our clients by sharing some examples that compare how healthcare staffing decisions were made before and after they implemented Hospital IQ. If your health system is not yet using a predictive staffing solution, some of these before examples will likely sound familiar.

Before: Desperate decision-making for staffing a health system

For this 5,000-employee health system in Florida, a lack of insight to future patient census was leading to decisions that caused overstaffing and understaffing, and both were problematic.

As their volumes kept growing, they thought the best course of action was to staff to their maximum capacity – a decision made out of a feeling of desperation. They soon realized that this approach was not going to work. As the Director of Logistics and Patient Throughput shares, “We were calling staff in and then realizing two hours later, ‘Oh we’re not going to need you.’ So it wasn’t smart.”

On the flip side, if the health system wasn’t staffed up appropriately when volumes were high, chaos ensued. Staff was either working over their capacity or the staffing team was trying frantically to get staff to fill last minute shifts. This approach was not sustainable. Staff were dissatisfied, and leaders were frustrated. She explains, “It was becoming very difficult for the staffing office and the supervisors to try to make the best decisions, especially those who were managing staffing in the off-hours.”

After: Using Hospital IQ’s crystal ball

Recognizing that swinging between understaffing and overstaffing could not be their long-term strategy, this client rolled out Hospital IQ’s Staffing solution. Because they now have real-time and predictive situational awareness, they can prepare for upcoming patient surges in advance and take appropriate action at exactly the right time. This results in fewer last-minute staffing changes, which is a huge staff satisfier and helps contain labor costs. Patient care is also improved because resources are being allocated appropriately, ensuring each patient receives the care they need.

The foundation of this transformation is access to reliable, predictive forecasts of patient demand that empower deliberate, proactive decision-making. “The predictive recommendations are so accurate, I call it our crystal ball. We know that we can trust them to help us make better decisions,” says the Director of Patient Flow and Throughput.

From reactive to proactive staffing decisions: The crystal ball in action

She shares an example of how their ‘crystal ball’ has helped them make better staffing decisions with precise timing. One area of the hospital that has experienced a spike in census is the mother-baby unit. When that unit is at capacity, they overflow to pediatrics which is a less-than-ideal situation. Because of the negative impact on patient and staff satisfaction, the decision to overflow patients from the mother-baby unit to pediatrics is not taken lightly. Yet without having the right insight, making the decision accurately can be difficult and is often stress-inducing.

For example, she talks about a situation where she got a frantic text early in the morning from the Director of Women’s and Children’s because it looked like they were going to need to overflow to pediatrics. She shares, “It was six o’clock in the morning, and her hair was on fire. She needed some help deciding what to do. So, I pulled out my ‘crystal ball’.”

Based on the predicted census in Hospital IQ, she was able to see that while it would eventually be necessary to overflow to pediatrics, they wouldn’t have a capacity issue until much later in the day. She explains, “The manager of the mother-baby unit was able to manage her unit calmly and confidently all day long knowing that we wouldn’t need to overflow until that evening. We didn’t disrupt staff or move patients any sooner than we needed to.”

Do you need a ‘crystal ball’ staffing solution in your health system?

If your organization is still making staffing decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information, it’s time to explore better options. Your workforce is too important to manage in reactive crisis-mode. I invite you to learn how Hospital IQ can provide clinical, financial and operational outcomes for your health system. Our workforce management experts are available to collaborate with you to develop a plan to optimize your workforce, improve staff satisfaction, contain costs and elevate patient care. Request a consultation with our experts today.

 

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