5 benefits of a centralized resource management center (RMC) strategy

The management and coordination of staffing resources can be a chaotic, stressful, and often emotional task for a manager.

Placing the appropriate resources can also be financially challenging, trapping managers in a silo that focuses solely on their department rather than viewing staffing needs at the enterprise level and configuring resources for what is best for the entire organization.

Workforce management centralization is a concept that has a foothold in organizations that want to maximize productivity and performance levels of their staff, while ensuring standardized processes. This strategy has grown in popularity within healthcare as provider organizations are faced with immense pressure to find savings without sacrificing quality.

When properly leveraged and supported, a resource management center (RMC) is able to clearly convey all available resources and possible movements to the clinical decision maker, resulting in a standardized, cost-effective, and a repetitive method of resource management and deployment.

The extent to which an organization utilizes a centralized approach to managing labor is fluid, and can be molded to best fit an organization's needs. If developed to its full potential, the RMC concept allows for in-depth schedule analysis and reporting functions while coordinating and carrying out a system's workforce management, deployment, and alignment strategies, increasing the effectiveness of resource placement and offering time savings for managers.

Whether an organization chooses only to use their RMC as a defacto call center with data entry functions for specific departments or as its strategic, outsourced "situation room," the strategy is capable of producing results that include:

1. Improved coordination of resources
2. Proactive identification of needs
3. Reduced labor costs
4. Economies of scale
5. Standardized processes

Improved coordination of resources

Coordinating the management of resources within healthcare can be a challenging process for provider organizations, diverting a manager's attention away from managing their units to focus on an often frustrating administrative task. By centralizing resource management, providers are able to view their resources at the enterprise level, allowing for a more objective and strategic approach to placing resources that will be fruitful for the entire organization.

Proactive identification of needs

An RMC looks at the upcoming schedule, days and weeks in advance, to identify needs and open shifts (based on forecasted demand); operating under a systematic recruitment structure based on an organization's business rules. With advanced workforce management tools at their fingertips, an RMC can manage the strategic deployment of resources against real-time demand across the system.

Reduced labor costs

An RMC reduces labor costs in many ways, but the single largest cost savings comes from the shift away from a silo strategy of managing labor to an strategy where staffing is coordinated at the enterprise level. With a silo approach, a unit director or manager focuses on his or her own department without a complete picture of what is going on elsewhere within their organization. The results can often be costly, with some units sending staff home while other, similar units, utilize overtime or bring in more expensive, last-minute sources of staffing, or run short.

Economies of scale

Balancing schedules, ensuring FTE compliance, proactively identifying upcoming gaps in the schedule, and certain administrative duties can be handled by the RMC, returning between 7 and 15 hours back to unit managers every pay period. This time savings can be invaluable for managers when it comes to freeing them up to focus on patient care and mentoring their staff.

Standardized processes

An RMC provides objectivity when recommending staff deployment, reducing emotion-based decision making and promoting fairness through the consistent application of standardized processes. The RMC collaborates with leaders to ensure policies are being followed as defined by the organization.

CHI Health is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. The system consists of 15 hospitals, and two stand-alone behavioral health facilities serving Nebraska and Southwest Iowa. CHI Health utilizes an outsourced RMC for 128 units, served by only 2 FTEs around the clock for 24x7 support. The use of an outsourced staffing office is both innovative and unique in the industry. Built on a foundation of trust, that trust is continually rewarded as CHI Health) experiences efficiencies and continues to add units to the scope of RMC responsibility.

At CHI Health this has enhanced the benefits of making sure we get the right staff to the right patient on the right shift.

In CHI Health's 2015 fiscal year, they saw a $1.2 million savings resulting from their use of the outsourced RMC model. Additionally, there was a 53.8% increase in productive hours from 2014 to 2015, and a 94% fill rate for all in scope departments.

Establishing an RMC does not inherently ensure success, and it does not automatically result in savings or improved placement of resources. Like any workforce management strategy, success with centralizing resource management is the result of a foundation of best practices, technology which provides automation and transparency, cultural acceptance, and then continual refinement through the monitoring of metrics and actions taken to improve. Not a plug-and-play solution, it also necessitates dedicated and intelligent staffing strategists who understand the sensitivities of their role and their relationships with departments throughout the system.

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