Recruitment and retention of healthcare employees is no easy task in the US particularly in the age of healthcare reform. It is true that healthcare staffing is blooming in the United States, specifically Registered Nurses are most demanded. This is largely due to the increasing demand in need of medical care facilities either in the hospital or at the patient’s place.
This all started with Affordable Care Act brought an additional 32 million new insured people in 2014 when insurance became mandatory. Therefore, the quality of medicine healthcare has improved and has taken new routes with its focus on new payment models based on accountable care and value-based care.
More than 50% of the operational expenses are spent on staff and their management. Taking half the share, they play a very important role in the healthcare management. The healthcare and medical staff management become crucial during the peak hours which is usually 7 AM to 7 PM, Monday through Friday. Though the off-peak hour service is considered the most effective ones for the patients.
When it comes to managing the staffs, we have many parameters and details to be taken into account. Hospitals must be well prepared to face the increasing medical needs which seems to grow exponentially in the recent past. we have got you 20 important tips that will hugely help you to manage healthcare and medical staffing needs.
Know the needs of your patients
Start with the needs of the patient. Though it is not gonna remain the same with time. Understand the needs, study the changes and plan accordingly. If the hospital tends to have more outpatients and resident nurses then make your choices accordingly. Similarly having supplementary employees as a standby when your healthcare staffs is unable to make it that day or when staffs are outnumbered by the patients is essential for organizations to meet its needs.
Formulate a budget
Next step into the setup is the budget and effective segregation of the money on various needs. As we saw already, an average of more than half of the operational cost is spent on staffing. We recommend 50% to 60% to be the ideal allotment for the healthcare staffing. This is inclusive of everything related to the staff from incentives to welfare programmes.
In the allotted fund, a certain value to manage the emergency staffing either directly or in a relationship with a staffing agency has to be covered.
When the medical reform period boomed and the scope for RN grew, even the smallest of institutions are pushed to have a healthcare staff at the managerial position to schedule things and collaborate among themselves. Of course, Nurse Managers are necessary not just for the sake of staff management but also with inventory and maintenance of the hospital. In larger organizations, forming a hierarchy of healthcare staff like nurse manager heading the head nurse and the head nurse leading her team of nurses enables better management.
Medical staff Scheduling
The shift schedule is one complicated scene for the nurse managers. They need to consider patient needs, peek and off-peak hours, availability of the staffs and also a good insight into the necessities in the future. Not only the less number of staffs is ineffective, allotting staffs in excess too is not good for the management making the setup less productive and missing out on cost efficiency.
Communication, as we all know, is a key aspect in almost every sector. Here, proper communication is required between the patient and healthcare staff and also between the staffs themselves during shift handover or resident nursing. To facilitate the best communication, we have got various technological devices in terms of digital logging and making it viewable to anyone anywhere. Systems of communication can be adapted to have a better understanding of the patients during the time of handover. One such system we recommend is the ‘Situation Background Assessment Recommendation’ (SBAR), by the name explains what it has in it, it gives a clear view of what the patient’s past and current scenario and the necessary steps to be followed in the future.
Collaboration is the key to productive work when it comes to the tightly scheduled workplace. Yes, collaboration is the simple way of planned teamwork from its members. It is just the way healthcare professionals from various levels who share the same patient and healthcare goals work together and organised to provide care to the patient. The interdependent team must be actively communicating amongst themselves and the patient’s family to ensure proper care and prevention once the patient has recovered.
The responsibility of the various staffs in a team with regards to the decision maker of a collaborative unit is of key importance for a continuum of services. The physicians are mostly the decision makers, but the whole of the hierarchy needs to be interactive and active to maintain and deliver good care. Amongst the collaborative team, shared decision making can ease the responsibility and facilitates quick actions in case of emergency. Periodic training and education can help a lot with shared responsibility.
Alternative planning, otherwise emergency planning is the backup option that is always at reachable limits for the hospital. Consider sudden increase of patients or a healthcare staff falling sick, posing the work on other staffs is not ideal. Instead, having a supplementary line-up of staffs who can be employed when necessary rises, is what alternate planning is about. The same can be done when some specialized healthcare staff is required, either hired or invited as visiting nurse based on the specialization required.
Advanced planning is nothing but, having an insight or foreseen planning for the staff needs in the near future like when it’s the holiday season and healthcare staffs too opt out for vacation during the same period, extra staffs need to be hired in advance to maintain the staff to patient ratio. Having an experienced nurse manager or having a staffing agency for assistance can sort this out easily.
This critical workload analysis helps in preventing the overload of staffs which reduces the productivity. The workload needs to be well balanced for the staffs, neither more nor less. Typical failure of workload management paves to chaos and stress among the healthcare staff which in turn, affects the patient care.
Workforce management technology
A modern term referring to the systematic allotment of the healthcare workforce on various time shifts, their pay scale and availability. A technical advancement in the healthcare staffing management. The first step involves the availability of staffs across various date, time and their willingness to work over the clock. Then comes the identification of patient care needs with respect to time. Finally, scheduling takes place with respect to the above factors and conditions. People responsible for the staffing management in healthcare sector tend to invest in this. Though the product is not completely mature the results are already more than satisfactory in bringing out the best use of nurse’s potential to meet the needs of the patients.
Having the healthcare professionals to do the same kind of work they are trained upon is the role management. Most of the professionals do not get time to specialise in additional skills rather than the subjected skills in the study period. Consider emergency physicians, they tend to be in demand due to the outnumbered general physicians during peak hours. This is not a healthy thing to be followed hence more general physicians have to be employed.
Sticking to responsibilities as per allotted schedule requires to be managed and supervised in the organisation which is mostly done by the nurse manager. When the schedule is set essentially the responsibilities of the healthcare staffs are also segregated. Every team member has a unique purpose none of their purposes must overlap or any should have null purposes. By allotting the responsibility in prior, patient care is more effective.
There is a very less opportunity for the professionals to know something apart from their specification and hence the work delegation is necessary. While many specialize in various sub-domains most are familiar with patient caring, patient interaction and future treatment planning which can be shared among them. The delegation of work at various levels needs to be done after proper evaluation of strengths and weakness of their skillset.
Giving up isolated units
Personal care units should not be left isolated even if it has the least requirements. This will leave the unit unstaffed in case of absence of the staff or can hold the staff without reallocation when there is not sufficient work. So, all of the care units must fall under the view of the management. Hence unit wise approach should not be encouraged, a centralized approach that relies on the whole needs and availability data for scheduling and allocation must be practiced. This will get more productive work eliminating shortages and insufficient work times.
Standardising healthcare staffing policies
Staffing policies stand as one of the key differences when it comes to retaining a staff within an organization. Pay scale, incentives, welfare programmes whatever be it, the policies must be standard across the market, at least across the organization. This when not kept transparent leads to chaos and dilemma amongst the staffs. Hence above the board staffing policies is the way to go to eliminate bias and have great patient care and efficiency in the workforce
With the advent of medical reform, every medical unit requires a leader at both the physician level and healthcare staff level. Hence the demand for the qualified leader in the market has grown larger. If recruiting one is an issue then do not hesitate to pick an experienced one from the existing team. Nurse managers need not be qualified on paper to do the scheduling and allotment process, a well-experienced nurse staying with the hospital for quite some time who knows the hospital and requirements well is more than enough to get to the leader seat which can also save you some bucks on the pay.
Use technology to meet the shortage of staffs
Technology has never failed to grow, not just with medicine and equipment, the way we interact with the world has seen a huge change with advancement in telecommunication. Having a healthcare staff at the billing and one at the registration when there is a shortage for patient care is not agreeable, rather this can be solved with the newest tech gadgets. Replacing the registration counter with the self-help registration kiosk like an ATM machine and billing handled automatically from the doctor’s desk can save staffs to work for the patients rather than on minor tasks.
Disaster management is a necessary part of management. Likewise, conflicts among staffs also need an upper hand to sort out. Conflicts are not necessarily bad, in fact, conflicts contribute to innovation when handled properly. Conflicts occur when two different persons having expertise in different domains want to solve the same issue in different ways. The difference in opinion is due to the diversity of expertise possessed. This as said will open new horizons and can be encouraged to try out if they are 100% sure of getting results.
Joint efforts with other institutions and Healthcare staffing agency
An organisation needs an external support for healthcare staffing when shortages occur or any specialised service is required. Smaller hospitals tend to partner amongst another small hospital to meet their needs when both have specialisations that the others don’t. In that case, they attend the patient as guest nurses and suffice the requirements. Bigger organisations lend services from the staffing agency for the same purpose. Which is a necessity because of the varied and unexpected medical needs of the people.
Above are the key points to manage healthcare and medical staffing needs during the medical reform period. Almost every line mentioned applies to all the scenarios. Medical staffing is growing into one of the most demanding sectors in the present decade. So choosing the sector either as Registered Nurse, BSN or running a Healthcare staffing agency has great scope and is assured to stand for at least two more decades until the healthcare staffing availability meets the needs.