The value of an outsourced centralized resource management strategy

The scheduling and deployment of nursing staff is often a chaotic process within hospitals.

One unit is overstaffed and sending nurses home, while another is scrambling for resources and making frantic recruitment calls. It happens on a regular basis, but is preventable with the right strategies and processes.

Let's be honest, most nurse managers didn't take the job because they get a thrill from scheduling their staff. It can be a time-consuming and frustrating process that keeps them from more important clinical responsibilities and mentoring their employees.

Managing a workforce takes thought and consideration. It demands strategic planning, and when scheduling staff to patient demand that isn't static, matters get complicated. The approach that many provider organizations take when managing their staff is unit based. Managers or directors look solely at their unit when predicting needs and placing staff, without taking into account what is happening on other units.

While it is logical for managers to be focused only on their units, this silo approach to staffing fractions hospitals. This can be a very costly practice and frustrate staff. If one unit is sending people home that hasn't met their FTE while another is pushing staff into overtime or calling in agency resources, there is a disconnect in the coordination of resources.

Centralizing the process of managing a workforce and outsourcing it to a trusted partner that specializes in deployment strategies mitigates the stress of determining where to place staff. An outsourced resource management center (RMC) is a valuable solution to deliver time and cost savings to an organization. Collaborating with clinical decision makers and having a holistic view of what is happening at an organizational level allows for a more productive and efficient staffing process.

A moldable solution, an outsourced RMC can be completely customized for an organization's specific 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.

Following business rules, such as cancellation order, set forth by the organization, RMC strategists offer objectivity when deploying staff and promote fairness through the consistent application of provider-approved standardized processes. Instead of staffing practices varying unit by unit, processes are streamlined and monitored across the enterprise.

Key to the success of an outsourced RMC is trust. Transferring the administrative tasks of staffing from the hospital to the business partner can be a cause of anxiety. This hesitation from unit managers and other leadership is understandable. The years of experience they have gained by managing their unit has provided them with a deep understanding of the intricacies of what happens on their unit and in their facility. However, a degree of separation allows for a more objective and strategic approach to placing resources. An outsourced RMC eliminates the emotional decisions that often cause disruptions in the staffing process. Continuing to drive all clinical decisions, hospital leaders entrust the RMC strategists to proactively identify staffing needs weeks to months in advance and place resources in the areas of highest demand.

An outsourced RMC is an integral part of an enterprise approach to workforce management. It offers transparency across the organization, visualizing supply and demand, and consulting with clinical decision makers on the real-time adjustments to deploy staff across the system to meet demand. The success of an outsourced RMC is built on the framework of best practices, transparency, cultural acceptance, automated scheduling processes, and continual monitoring of metrics.

With the right partnership and an enterprise mentality, an RMC offers provider organizations a strategic command center that views staffing needs from a "30,000-foot" view, placing resources where most needed. This staffing best practice can deliver valuable cost and time savings, allowing providers to focus more time and attention on patient care.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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