4 key benefits of Collaborative Staffing

Staff management is a key element to achieving the goals of health reform, and healthcare organizations can improve patient and employee satisfaction, improve quality and boost their bottom line by using a collaborative approach to staff management.

Collaborative Staffing is "a best practice, evidenced-based methodology that more effectively aligns supply (staff) and demand (patient coverage) and optimizes both staff preferences and organizational needs," said Patrick Ball, senior vice president and general manager of consulting at Sage Growth Partners, in a recent webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review.

Under this staffing model, hospital employees have the ability to view open shifts that they are qualified to work across multiple units and facilities. This methodology applies the "crowdsourcing" concept to staffing and allows staff and management to work together to fill open shifts, according to Mr. Ball.

Below are four additional benefits of Collaborative Staffing.

1. Cost control. Collaborative Staffing allows hospitals and health systems to leverage underutilized resources and prevent use of more costly resources. Charlotte, N.C.-based Carolinas HealthCare System Senior Vice President and System Nurse Executive MaryAnn Wilcox provided a specific example of how having enterprise-wide staffing information available helped her organization cut spending.  

"If one hospital had three or four critical care nurses out sick, they may desperately need critical care nurses, even spending huge dollars in premium labor and staffing incentives to get those shifts covered when, ten miles down the road [at another facility], we might be sending people home because we didn't have enough patients. Being able to pull resources from other units or locations is a tremendous benefit," said Ms. Wilcox.

Utilizing Collaborative Staffing to reduce overtime expenses will not only benefit a hospital's finances but also improve clinical outcomes. "Nurses that work excessive overtime are three times more likely to make medical errors," said Mr. Ball.  

2. Staff satisfaction. Collaborative Staffing helps promote staff engagement by bringing staff into the scheduling process. "Staff feel more empowered," said Carolyn V. Donohue, MSN, RN, NE-BC, vice president and CNO of Roper Hospital in Charleston, S.C. She said Collaborative Staffing has resulted in less scheduling complaints from nursing staff as well.

A collaborative approach also improves staff satisfaction by allowing staff to plan in advance. Nurses at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in Charleston get fewer calls to come in on their days off since the hospital implemented Collaborative Staffing, according to Pennie Peralta, MHA, RN, NEA-BC, the hospital's vice president of nursing and CNO.

Boosting staff satisfaction helps improve patient satisfaction as well, according to Mr. Ball "Happy and satisfied staff equals happy and satisfied patients," he said.

3. Staff development. Collaborative Staffing gives employees opportunities to develop new skills and efficiencies by allowing them to self-direct their activity, according to Barbara Carney, nurse director of centralized services at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"It's a great way to offer career development opportunities while you're encouraging better shift coverage," she said. "A staff member could choose to cover shifts in various units — med-surg, cardiology or neurology, for example —learning new skills and bringing that value back to their home unit."

4. Staff optimization. Collaborative Staffing helps healthcare organizations have the "right resource in the right place at the right time for a better patient experience," said Mr. Ball. Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital and Roper Hospital have tremendously benefitted from the ability to see where staff can be flexed up or down, according to Ms. Peralta and Ms. Donohue.

To learn more about Collaborative Staffing, view the full webinar by clicking here. Download the slides here

Note: View archived webinars by clicking here.

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