Healthcare Staffing & Scheduling Optimization: Common Problem Areas

In an industry where people are undoubtedly a provider’s strongest focus and greatest asset, ensuring the best frontline talent is available to provide the highest quality care to patients should be a top priority. While many providers recognize the value of workforce management and its potential for helping healthcare organizations achieve their mission and vision within the communities they serve, without the right approach to staffing and scheduling, challenges arise.

Staffing and scheduling has been reported as one of the largest single factors of financial, productivity and quality performance – and, when optimized, offers the promise of substantial savings and clinical improvement. Below are common problem areas which, when properly addressed, have the biggest impact on an organization’s ability to create efficiencies and reduce premium labor spend while continuing to provide high quality care.

Core Staffing Model

Many organizations put heavy focus on what core staffing numbers should be from a finance perspective rather than letting historical volume fluctuations predict on average what is needed to staff their units. This can lead to waste and payroll leakage from over-scheduling when excess cost is paid to under-utilized staff. This is further complicated when satisfaction issues arise as caregivers are floated or flexed home.

Scheduling Practices & Approach 

In order to safely and efficiently staff a facility, the right people with the right skill set should be in the right place at the right time of day. This is where good scheduling practices should come into play. Is your organization approaching scheduling with this idea in mind, and how is that being done against volume? What scheduling strategies does your organization use to make sure the right mix of full-time and part time staff are used to cover openings you may have for a variety of reasons?

Daily Staffing/Crisis Management

How will your organization manage staffing for the next 12-24 hours? Especially in nursing, there is often a lack of view of the whole house, which means many organizations are not using predictive scheduling to truly understand how many open shifts there may be far enough in advance. This leads to a constant “crisis mode” state, where units are looking just 12-24 hours ahead and spending premium labor dollars as a result.

These scenarios don’t have to be the case. When armed with an efficient framework for staff planning and scheduling, providers have the ability to develop volume-adjusted prospective staffing plans and guidelines that align with labor budgets, goals and targets for every department.  Workforce Insight is frequently engaged by hospitals and health systems to provide third-party staffing and scheduling optimization expertise.  Our healthcare workforce management experts can help ensure you’ve got the visibility you need, providing real-time tools and analytics dashboards to help better predict staffing needs well ahead of time to prevent crisis staffing and paying premium dollars in the 11th hour.

We work side-by-side with healthcare organizations to construct optimal staffing models, policies and practices, involving the comprehensive assessment and analysis of labor budgeting, staffing and scheduling practices. Collaborative teams include leaders and key stakeholders from nursing, finance, operations, HR/payroll and IT to explore current staffing plans, budget alignment, caregiver satisfaction, position control, FTE status mix (full time, part time, per-diem/pool, agency by group – RN, LPN, Nursing Assistants, etc.). Other factors reviewed include shift differentials, overtime usage, incentives, turnover, vacancy, patient volume forecasts and review of financial, clinical and quality outcomes.   Workforce Insight also helps implement new scheduling technology, or optimize systems in place to ensure that your organization is getting the most out of the investment it has made.

Is your organization looking to optimize staffing and scheduling? The workforce management professionals who serve our healthcare clients include seasoned consultants, healthcare strategists, former hospital nursing directors and finance leaders with strong clinical, operational and technical backgrounds—all of whom excel in partnering with hospitals and healthcare systems to centralize or standardize key processes, implement best practice staffing and scheduling practices, and deploy new or optimize existing scheduling technology. Contact us to learn more about Workforce Insight’s long history of experience as a trusted advisor to healthcare organizations, and how we leverage this experience to help your organization optimize scheduling to improve efficiency and control costs while continuing to provide high-quality patient care.


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