Better management delivers breakthrough results for nursing services

In a healthcare facility, no detail is too small to play a role—sometimes a critical role—in shaping patient outcomes.

And nowhere is customization more important than in the design and management of front-line nursing services.

The challenge is that those service needs vary widely across facilities, jurisdictions, patients, and treatment plans. As such, a successful, cost-effective nurse management system depends on the ability to manage a massive amount of complexity and juggle facility access, equipment, and personnel schedules in a way that is largely invisible to patients and their families, but essential to the results they need and expect.

Factor in the budgetary challenges facing healthcare, particularly public agencies and facilities, and you end up with a perfect storm of challenges that management can only confront and overcome with the best, most integrated information technology.

Nurse scheduling and management is one of the most promising areas for an institution’s intent on optimizing their operations. And it is particularly important in a public healthcare system coping with a large and growing client base, continuous funding challenges, and varied, often complex care requirements that are driving a wider conversation about healthcare expenditures, affordability, and financial sustainability.

One Size Does Not Fit All

There may have been a time when healthcare workforce solutions could be standardized across many different institutions. Today, all facilities still share the desire and obligation to adhere to a common, high standard of care. But that’s often where the commonalities end. In fact, it has reached the point where rigidly standardized solutions are actually more expensive for institutions to use.

The one size fits all tool for nursing workforce management does not integrate with other software, including electronic health records (EHRs) – thus, creating unnecessary labor costs and decreasing productivity.

Customization Saves the Day

The good news for nursing managers is the availability of a suite of automated workforce management solutions that take a tough, complex task and make it doable. With functionality that cuts across all the institution’s information systems, front-line decision-makers gain the unprecedented ability to:
• Create sophisticated schedules that put nurses where they are needed most, then adapt those schedules as requirements shift or evolve
• Manage an array of standard scheduling processes, from demand planning to schedule creation to day-to-day staffing
• Seamlessly arrange appropriate replacement staff when the usual members of a nursing team are unavailable
• Review real-time data to assess workload coverage and workforce performance
• Set enterprise-wide standards and processes for staff scheduling, while giving front-line units the appropriate degree of flexibility to adopt their own practices when necessary

In stark contrast to legacy systems that offer little or no flexibility to meet local conditions, a state-of-the-art, automated solution gives nursing managers the tools to make the best decisions for their staff.

Sophisticated workforce scheduling allows leaders to predefine unique patterns of day, evening, and night shifts, build in the appropriate number of rest days for their staff, and evenly distribute night shifts across the employee population.

It All Comes Back to the Patient

The more integrated, coordinated system also matches up with each individual patient’s specific needs, since it’s connected with the EHR system.

Patient care documented in the EHR can be leveraged to determine the specific workload the patient requires, and then tied back to how many staff a unit should have at a given time.

In the end, the pragmatic beauty of a simplified, integrated nursing workforce solution is that it connects better working conditions for employees with better outcomes for patients—all while boosting productivity and getting the most value out of every dollar in a healthcare facility’s budget.

In a caring profession where personalized treatment requires a personal touch, it’s hard to imagine a higher or better use for the technology that clears the way for institutions to deliver standout results.

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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