Every day, hospitals and healthcare facilities face staffing challenges. Some grapple with not having enough employees for full shift coverage; others fill most positions while still dealing with a nurse schedule problem.
Clinical managers can spend more than half their time trying to resolve common scheduling problems such as:
- Not enough physicians, nurses and allied health professionals to fill shifts
- Staffing imbalances in different units
- Staff not meeting full-time employee (FTE) commitments
- Forced overtime, cancellations and floating staff
- Overruns in labor costs
- Recurring instances of open shifts
- Staffing escalations occurring too frequently
- Burnout among available staff
These types of problems exasperate staff and damages the clinical work environment. Unless resolved, these problems can also undermine vital objectives in the healthcare facility: caring for patients.
The correlation between nurse staffing problems and the delivery of care is often revealed in studies. The effect spreads to:
- Patient safety and health outcomes
- Patient satisfaction
- Satisfaction and retention among clinicians
Even with the most advanced nursing scheduling software, problems with staffing are not inevitable. Traditional planning practices have not, unlike other industries, included forecasting mechanisms to determine resource needs.
This, despite the fact people are the most important resource for healthcare facilities. Slowly, however, the industry is beginning to accept more advanced tools to resolve issues with scheduling staff.
Healthcare Joins the Age of Advanced Technology
Many industries utilize the latest technology to aid them in forecasting future labor needs. Such tools contribute to a smarter strategic plan when companies prepare themselves – and their employees – for future demands.
Healthcare is not different than other industries. Although some medical conditions are not predictable, the business side of delivering quality care should take full advantage of software that helps to resolve a nurse scheduling problem.
Data analytics is just one feature that can be tailored to the needs of the healthcare enterprise. Clinical managers of each unit, whether ICU, pediatric or the ER, can use nursing scheduling software.
This type of system provides coverage alerts so managers know in advance where they need to add more positions or give nurses more hours. Additionally, the software does more than simply schedule the next shift.
It is possible for clinical managers to create accurate plans for shifts three months in advance. Not only does this solve management and administrative challenges at different healthcare systems and hospitals, but it will also be a welcomed addition among healthcare professionals.
A contributing factor to low nurse retention rates is the inability of some enterprises to not schedule this crucial position effectively. As a result, healthcare institutions lose tons of money every year. Low employee morale and frustration is unavoidable with bad scheduling.
Why Entrusting Your Nurse Scheduling Problem to Software is Beneficial
Humans are error prone, especially if they entrust the complex process of scheduling clinical staff with pen and paper or a spreadsheet.
Implementing a smart scheduling technology system not only shows gaps between available shifts and available nurses, but it reveals conflict if one nurse is double booked.
Another reason to adopt an electronic software program for nurse schedules is to decrease the amount of unnecessary overtime. This is a huge issue in the nursing industry and causes healthcare institutions to lose money.
Add to the loss in revenue a nursing staff that is exhausted and overworked, and there should be no hesitation to change. A flexible system allows managers to schedule:
- Shift rotations
- Open shifts for on-call floaters
- Recurring shifts
Distributing work shifts is better than paying for overtime or sick days. Clinical managers can use features to customize unit schedules to fit their institution’s specific needs.
Science Isn’t Just for Medical Research
The science of planning healthcare’s workforce begins with using innovative practices that can accurately fulfill demand. Predicting and forecasting demand through intelligence data will help managers build smarter and stronger staff.
Instituting best management practices from the data collection helps managers develop an accurate system to forecast staffing needs. With this information, it can be determined how many and what kind of staff is needed for an individual unit or the entire practice.
Better Outcomes, Better Delivery of Care
Considering that more than half of hospital and healthcare systems’ expenditures go toward labor costs, every enterprise should welcome the chance to use nursing scheduling software. The substantial savings can be invested into caring for patients now and in the future.
Other fundamental outcomes include more job satisfaction and less burnout, improved patient experience and optimizing core staff. At the same time, healthcare facilities will experience fewer staff cancellations and forced overtime.
The healthcare industry continues to make breakthrough cures to fight against widespread disease. Likewise, the industry should include the science of workforce planning to resolve problems with scheduling nurses and other key staff.