In healthcare, the workforce is the link between an organization’s clinical and financial goals. As the biggest operating expense, optimizing the workforce is key to providing quality care while also keeping costs in line with expectations. In a recent survey conducted with HealthLeaders, API Healthcare asked more than 100 healthcare leaders what workforce strategies they felt had the greatest impact on their organization’s ability to control costs and improve quality. Among the top initiatives deemed to have the greatest impact were acuity-based staffing and adjusting the mix of professionals based on skill level and competencies.
It comes as no surprise that these two initiatives bubbled to the top. In an environment where quality metrics are weighted heavily, staffing based on patient volumes and level of acuity is an effective way to improve quality while containing costs. In theory, acuity-based staffing is simple. However without the right data, a typical approach would be missing the analytics necessary to support data-driven staffing decisions.
More than just controlling nurse-to-patient ratios, data-driven staffing should take into consideration the skill sets and competencies of the caregiver mix, ensuring the right combination is in place to match each patient’s unique needs. Nurse workload and inefficient patient matching can directly impact patient care. In fact, hospitals that utilize data and analytics when staffing are in a much better position to cost-effectively keep care quality high.
New care delivery models are changing how and where care is delivered, and not all nurses and patients are created equal. Ratios are a great place to start, but objective, reliable data and sophisticated analytics are must-haves when it comes to making staffing decisions based on evidence and outcomes.
Utilization of workforce analytics can help healthcare organization make better short-term and long-term staffing decisions. In the short-term, a focus on optimizing the skill mix can help get the right staff in the right place at the right time. This balances care needs with budget constraints and ensures patient satisfaction. In the long-term, data can be used to determine how and who to recruit, as well as to develop and retain a workforce with the right skills and competencies to support current and future needs.
Acuity-based staffing and ensuring the right mix of caregiver skills and competencies not only helps improve quality, it also helps generate high performers and create engaged and empowered employees—the core to labor cost reduction and quality of care improvements.
For more information about top workforce management initiatives, take a look at the white paper, “Top Workforce Management Initiatives for Quality of Care Improvements and Labor Cost Reduction.”
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