Using staffing evidence to improve the patient experience: 5 takeaways about workforce strategy

The increasing focus on patient satisfaction is driving many healthcare leaders to re-examine their workforce management strategies and the resources they can deploy to better support patient outcomes and satisfaction.

A recent webinar hosted by Molly Gamble, editor-in-chief of Becker's Hospital Review, Krista Baty, RN, CNO of Cedar Park (Texas) Regional Medical Center, and Lisa LaBau, general manager of workforce solutions company API Healthcare, explored where healthcare leaders currently stand with their staffing practices.

"As more and more research comes to play out, we're able to link staffing variables to patient outcomes," said Ms. LaBau. "It's really becoming more apparent that there needs to be a way to operationalize staffing processes in ways that use evidence and makes staffing easier every day, and during every shift."

To gauge how workforce management and patient experience are prioritized and which staffing strategies are currently in use, Becker's Hospital Review surveyed 95 healthcare leaders in May and June.

Highlighted below are five findings from the survey that Ms. Gamble outlined during the webinar.

1. Roughly two-thirds (64 percent) of the leaders surveyed said the patient experience is influencing their workforce strategy management. Additionally, 81 percent said workforce management is a high priority at their organization.

2. Traditionally, patient satisfaction has not been a major driver behind workforce strategies — productivity and labor costs were the concerns that influenced strategy most. The Becker's survey, however, found patient satisfaction was tied with reduced labor costs for second place behind improved productivity among factors that influence staffing today.

3. Respondents indicated the top three workforce management tactics that have the biggest impact on clinical outcomes: staffing skill and competency mix (69 percent), acuity-based staffing (48 percent) and learning, development and competencies management (43 percent).

4. Similarly, the respondents ranked staffing skill and competency mix (69 percent), learning, development and competencies management (56 percent) and acuity-based staffing (37 percent) as having the biggest impact on reducing medication errors and never events.

5. For patient satisfaction, the surveyed healthcare leaders said staff satisfaction (56 percent), staffing skill and competency mix (54 percent) and acuity-based staffing (40 percent) had the biggest impact.

"Although staff satisfaction and staffing skill and competency mix were the two workforce management strategies hospital leaders emphasized the most, they are also the two strategies that receive the least amount of support from software, data and automation," said Ms. Gamble.

According to survey results, only 33 percent of leaders use workforce management software to enable staffing skill and competency mix and only 19 percent have automated their workforce strategies to improve staff satisfaction.

"Where is the disconnect? Even though hospital leaders identified certain tactics as mostly likely to improve clinical outcomes, reduce medical errors and boost patient satisfaction, many are not leveraging data and software to optimize those very tactics," said Ms. Gamble.

To learn more, view the full webinar by clicking here.

Note: View archived webinars by clicking here.

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