Acuity for Budget-Challenged Organizations

In recent years the phrase ‘doing more with less’ has become the default setting for a growing number of healthcare organizations. The challenge of providing excellent care while trying to keep costs aligned with tight budgets has quickly become the new normal. A lot has been said about strategic workforce planning and how technology can help rein in costs and improve care. However, for many budget-strapped organizations, a capital investment in technology can be challenging and requires much due diligence.

I recently participated in a webinar to discuss the top five trends in workforce management and the benefit deploying these strategies are having across the industry. We talked about productivity, skill mix/competencies, overtime, resource pools, and acuity. All five of these trends were featured as the most successful initiatives, per a HealthLeaders survey of healthcare executives.

Towards the end of the session, one participant asked a very good question:

How do I move my organization towards an acuity-based staffing model

when I have very limited financial resources?

Without a doubt technology makes everything more streamlined and effective. But when you need to make do with what you have, there are some basic attributes that can help get you started down the right path.

First take a look at the work your nurses do in all of the major categories. We tend to be very good at covering tasks, but we tend to leave out care coordination work and the work of relationships and collaboration. All of these factors should be counted into the key interventions that nurses perform. You will also need consistency of measuring that includes the ADT factor. This is critical because if you pass 40% turnover, you have a significantly different workload. If you take 45 minutes to an hour for each admission, it is easy to tell when you need to add a whole nurse.

Accurate time standards and skills mix are also important to consider. Being able to project these numbers accurately is a critical component of an acuity-based system. This is also where having technology comes in handy. Ideally a fully integrated, robust system would do the heavy lifting, providing the actionable data to support an acuity-based system. But when there is no budget, even just a bit of technology—something that provides a complete picture of staff skill mix and competencies—can make a big impact on your ability to schedule based on evidence.watch full The End of the Tour 2015 film online

Budget-challenged organizations require forward-thinking strategies that use workforce data in new and unique ways. You can find the full session on the Healthcare Staffing and Scheduling Trends for 2015 and Beyond on API Healthcare’s webinar archive.

 

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