Today, the health care industry is struggling to maintain care levels while grappling with a workforce shortage. It is not only that more physicians and nurses are needed. There is also a shortage of administrative and other nonclinical staff. More than 60 percent of respondents to a Medical Group Management Association poll said that they faced a lack of qualified applicants for nonclinical positions in the past year. Accordingly, optimal scheduling and workforce management are critical tools to keep hospitals, urgent care centers and medical offices running smoothly.
Recruiting, scheduling and retaining personnel are important parts of your workforce management strategy. Creating workable schedules requires balancing planned and unplanned time off with appropriate staffing levels to meet patient demand. Shortages of applicants, however, places an extra-critical need to use your current staff efficiently and effectively, without burning them out.
The need for optimal scheduling
Health care organizations are already under pressure to reduce their costs and improve efficiency in the face of decreasing reimbursement rates and operating margins. You need to ensure efficient staff scheduling. Using nurses or aides to their full capacity, and not over- or underworking them, is important.
Optimal staff scheduling can deploy your staff efficiently, reduce overtime costs and improve morale (and retention). Software solutions that show available staff, allow a manager to grant time off and provide other details have existed for years. However, newer platforms and predictive analytics have revolutionized workforce scheduling and cut costs for health care facilities.
For example, one hospital was relying heavily on staffing agencies and worker incentives to fill its nursing needs. Adopting a new software solution to optimize scheduling reportedly resulted in $4.3 million in savings and a far more stable nursing workforce for that hospital.
Workforce management addresses staffing challenges
To run at peak performance and meet patient needs, you need to have people with the right skills in the right place when needed. To accomplish this, many organizations have turned to workforce management.
Newer workforce management systems offer a wealth of information to management. While they overlap in functionality with time tracking tools, a comprehensive workforce management tool offers far more functionality. Think of your old flip phone; it enabled you to place calls and maybe even send text messages. However, a modern smartphone does these and more.
In workforce management systems, dashboards allow managers to readily view information to make better decisions. Timekeeping tracks schedule hours, whereas workforce management tools, like Huntington Business System's (HBS's) Ecotime®, add more tools to your staff management arsenal. Transactional capabilities let you see schedules, precise cost tracking to better manage labor budgets, FMLA details, overtime rules and more at the present time and for the foreseeable future. Shift-based information lets you look holistically at various levels throughout your organization.
Other advantages offered include making it easy to identify over- and underworked staff, either of which can create employee dissatisfaction, seamless integration of labor regulations in your state and a permanent record/audit trail to mitigate issues.
Replacing legacy workforce management solutions
To avoid incurring new technology costs, many organizations hold onto legacy systems. However, legacy timekeeping and scheduling platforms can exacerbate staffing and budgetary issues. Simple things like viewing schedules for all nurses, printing a staffing report or even switching screens can prove time-consuming and require workarounds.
Many health care facilities are convinced that their outdated legacy system, which may have been customized for them or was difficult to implement, would be impossible or at least painful to replace. However, many newer workforce management systems can be far less costly to maintain and can be configured for your particular business requirements and staffing needs. Many scheduling systems are flexible enough to import data from your existing systems, saving you time and effort to get up and running.
Additionally, some facilities use separate systems for scheduling, time tracking and other labor budgeting activities. They enter and maintain overlapping info in several databases that do not share information. Furthermore, with all the mergers and acquisitions in the health care industry in recent years, there may be different legacy systems in different facilities that do not allow for staffing economies of scale. Implementing a new workforce management solution that provides a view of the entire workforce can help avoid redundancies and make better use of staff across the organization.
An integrated solution
Instead of relying on out-of-date solutions to a persistent staffing problem, consider implementing a new system to make it easier to schedule and manage your limited workforce assets. HBS designed its Ecotime® application to be one of the most powerful, yet flexible, workforce management systems available. The scalable solution, already in use in many hospitals and medical facilities, works for smaller organizations with as few as 39 employees and larger multi-site firms with over 200,000 workers.
HBS specializes in software solutions for automating payroll and human resource functions. We sought to make Ecotime® easy to set up and implement. It easily works with your existing payroll or HRIS. It supports active directory, LDAP and other third-party single sign-on solutions. The cloud-based option provides even lower start-up costs, more scalability and little in the way of maintenance.
Predictable work schedule helps enhance the quality of care and improve staff morale. Additionally, in today's challenging, cost-conscious health care arena, you cannot afford to pay unnecessary fees to staffing agencies and overtime costs to maintain adequate levels of care. You need tools to manage your workforce advantageously and to plan optimal scheduling. For more information about HBS workforce management solution, contact us at (631) 361-6820 or via our website.