Workforce optimization is not a new concept in healthcare. However, as the business model shifts towards accountability, more and more healthcare organizations are utilizing different and unique strategies that deliver both quality-of-care and cost containment benefits. As experts in healthcare workforce optimization, API Healthcare has a pretty good idea of what we believe to be the most effective strategies. But we were curious to see if executives in the trenches agreed. To find out, we collaborated with HealthLeaders to survey 124 healthcare leaders to get their thoughts on what constitutes effective workforce management. What we discovered was largely in-line with what we have known all along—many of the most effective workforce management initiatives could be used to drive both labor cost reductions and quality of care improvements.
Forward thinking health systems have found new ways to leverage workforce data analytics in meaningful and effective ways. Based on our survey almost 50% of survey respondents indicated productivity was the single most successful labor cost reduction initiative for their organization.
In health care, effective productivity measurement isn’t based solely on metrics, but rather by patients and their specific needs. The traditional definition of productivity is the measure of output that can be produced given a certain set of inputs. For a health system this involves matching labor to volume and patient care needs within the hospital and across the continuum of care.
However, challenges with productivity measurement do exist in the form of data analytics. Patients with the same diagnosis can have wildly different care needs. The environment in which the care is delivered can impact how long it will take to deliver that care. Therefore, successful productivity benchmarks should be specific to the organization and the unique variables contained within each unit or department.
Ensuring the data is accessible and actionable to those who are being held accountable for managing productivity is also important. Data about patient volumes and care needs must be compiled and matched with details about employee staffing. Then, the right information must be made available to decision makers, allowing them the time to make decisions that affect the cost and care outcomes before the pay period, or even the current shift, has ended.
Developing strategies around workforce data is important to gaining success in the marketplace today. As the connecting point between quality of care and cost containment, the healthcare workforce is one of the largest drivers of both clinical and financial success. The most effective workforce strategies use technology to leverage analytics in meaningful, actionable and reproducible ways. With accurate, timely, actionable data available at all levels of the organization, data-driven workforce management decisions can be made throughout the organization.
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