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Keys to Effective Workforce Management

Keys to Effective Workforce Management

Inefficient management can harm employee satisfaction and retention – a recipe for disaster. Effective workforce management, on the other hand, can maximize performance in organizations. This means taking advantage of information technology to evaluate and optimize workforce systems, particularly in regards to scheduling.

Workforce management is especially significant in healthcare, where organization and performance are critical. Great management in healthcare systems can positively impact not only the satisfaction and success of your workforce but also the health and safety of the patients you care for.

What is workforce management?

Workforce management is a combination of components that, when utilized correctly, can make teams successful. These components include utilizing IT systems to augment employees and implementing procedures that enhance profit. Effective workforce management combines operations management, labor compliance, communications and employee engagement to create a cohesive, productive environment.

For example, Cleveland Clinic responded to the extra strain on its workforce during COVID-19 by taking an “intentional approach” to communication. This strategy included daily emails or recorded messages from the CEO meant to inform, encourage and inspire the organization’s frontline healthcare workers.

In healthcare organizations specifically, workforce management is imperative. Schedulers must optimize productivity, streamline workflows and match staffing with patient demands to enable provider success and patient satisfaction.

Key elements of effective workforce management

Scheduling

In order to successfully utilize workforce management in healthcare, staff scheduling must be a priority. Fortunately, Intrigma’s efficient scheduling software can help your organization enable workforce management. For example, the software allows you to measure provider productivity and match this to patient demand. Providers who are highly productive can be utilized in areas where census or patient acuity is high.

Scheduling software can also track and manage licensures across health systems. Without efficient technology for support, keeping track of multiple licensures across a mix of provider levels can be time-consuming and confusing. Scheduling software also helps managers keep track of the time/hours that providers work. This can make payroll processing much simpler.

Another key element of effective workforce management is having smooth system integrations, which can help eliminate double and triple data entry. Intrigma’s scheduling software can help in this regard too. It integrates with existing clinical communication systems, making scheduling transparency easy. As a result, schedulers can establish accountability among staff and improve communication within and across departments.

Intrigma tools can also integrate with electronic medical records systems (EMR) to pull vital patient information into the schedule. Combined with the ability to integrate with existing payroll systems and other human resource management tools, this interoperability can greatly reduce the time you spend on these tasks.

Other elements

While scheduling is a key factor of workforce management, there are other items to consider as well. Communication is critical. Providers at every level of care should feel that the organization is working collaboratively toward a common goal. In large healthcare systems, this can be difficult, but messages coming straight from the CEO to the staff can go a long way in making sure staff feel connected and valued (like Cleveland Clinic did!).

Mentorship and skills development are two additional elements of workforce management in healthcare. Through mentorship, experienced workers can guide and invest in new staff, which can inspire both to contribute new ideas that add value to the organization. This type of mentoring can develop a promising base of new staff who are already familiar with the organization’s culture and mission. Additionally, with ever-changing technology advancements, skills development helps train employees to meet new demands and be more productive.

Benefits of workforce management

Not only does effective workforce management allow offices to run more smoothly, but it can also positively impact workforce culture. One example is employee engagement. Providers who feel like they are an integral part of the larger picture will work harder and be more productive for the organization.

Additionally, good management reduces staff call-offs and turnover, largely thanks to the transparency and flexibility scheduling software enables. For example, Intrigma’s scheduling software helps optimize the schedule to avoid under- and overstaffing (and the consequential impacts on patient and provider satisfaction). After all, having understaffed units creates frustration and impacts the care your patients receive. And overstaffing can lead to costly overtime or putting staff on call. With valuable workforce management elements like scheduling software, you can create loyalty among staff and reduce employee turnover.

For more information on how Intrigma can improve your organization’s scheduling and workforce management strategies, contact the team today.

Help Decrease Employee Stress During the COVID-19 Era

Help Decrease Employee Stress During the COVID-19 Era

Healthcare workers face stress daily for many reasons, but COVID-19 has created a whole new level of stress in the healthcare field. Fortunately, your organization can alleviate some of it by streamlining your processes and utilizing scheduling software.

Pandemic stressors

Since COVID-19 appeared, healthcare workers have found themselves facing new stressors (besides the obvious health and safety concerns). While some healthcare areas are busier than ever, other areas have suffered a decrease in traffic due to COVID-19. For example, outpatient surgery centers were closed for months, causing some healthcare workers to fear job loss. On the other hand, in other areas like intensive care units, workers may be overwhelmed and overworked. The combination of having long shifts, working overtime, and watching patients pass away creates an entirely new level of stress.

Some areas of healthcare have also had to adapt to new work locations or new processes and technology. Some workers have shifted from slow outpatient areas to busy inpatient units to work at the bedside. COVID-19 has brought different processes to many units as well, especially in areas like personal protective equipment and infection control. Furthermore, many healthcare workers have had to adopt new technology in regards to telemedicine, testing, treatment, and vaccine storage and administration.

As if these work situations weren’t stressful enough, there is also stress on the home front. Healthcare workers with young children have been dealing with homeschooling. Where doctors and nurses used to be able to go home and relax with family, their off-hours may now be spent in Google Classroom helping their children figure out remote learning. Such stress at work and home makes finding comfort even more important.

Ways to decrease employee stress

You can help your employees.

With COVID-19 processes and procedures changing frequently, communication is key to decrease employee stress. Communicating openly with employees about process changes can prevent confusion, frustration, and panic.

When possible, try to elicit staff input about office procedures. Allowing staff to make suggestions on how new procedures can be best implemented in the workplace can make employees feel they have some control over their environment.

Additionally, offering flexible scheduling is one of the most important things that can help decrease employee stress. Given the added strain most healthcare providers are dealing with at home, allowing staff to trade and swap shifts and view the schedule remotely will help them manage their lives and give them some autonomy back.

Finally, offering support services to employees can support them through these challenging times. Most employers offer some type of employee assistance programming for counseling and mental health services in a confidential manner. Take advantage of these services to help preserve your employees’ well-being.

How scheduling software can help

Scheduling can either add stress to the workplace or decrease it. With Intrigma’s scheduling software, you have multiple opportunities to decrease it. For example, utilize scheduling rules that take provider preferences into consideration and generate schedules automatically based on those preferences. This feature will both decrease stress on your providers and decrease the time you spend on creating and editing schedules.

Again, being flexible with scheduling can also help working parents balance schedules with family time or homeschooling. Creating transparency in the workplace is possible with scheduling software that can be accessed remotely from home computers or cell phones. This type of transparency allows providers to fill in last-minute openings in the schedule quickly. For example, if a provider is out sick, other providers in the unit can see the open shift and step in.

While the stressors of COVID-19 are probably not going away any time soon, there are ways your organization can help support your healthcare providers during these challenging times. To learn more about how scheduling software can help, contact Intrigma.

Which Medical Specialty Has the Most Complex Schedule?

Which Medical Specialty Has the Most Complex Schedule?

Anesthesia or OB/GYN? Emergency department or hospitalists? Which specialty has the most difficult scheduling rules? The answer is not that simple.

While all medical specialties have complex schedules, a few stand out on top of the list. Luckily, scheduling software can simplify the process. This can make life easier for everyone, both scheduler, and provider.

What makes a complex schedule?

Specialty services are complex, resulting in difficult scheduling. In fact, many factors add to this difficulty. For example, there may be many sites to schedule at, each with its own staffing mix to take into account.

After all, many medical specialties have a complex staffing mix. There may be MDs, residents, NPs, RNs, LPNs and MAs all working. Don’t forget about secretarial and support staff either! With all the different roles, the schedule is even more delicate. This makes balancing the right mix of people in all the right places so important.

There’s also shift work. Schedulers have to consider which shift a provider works to avoid burnout. It’s important to avoid scheduling for the day before and the day after each shift worked.

Complex specialty scheduling rules need consideration too. For example, some sites may need an MD or DO on-site with NPs, PAs and residents. Other sites may need more support staff per provider. Don’t forget about personal rules too. For example, a certain provider may not work on Fridays.

To top it all off, schedulers must face these challenges 24/7 to ensure effective staffing. With no off days, it’s crucial that schedulers watch how many days in row providers work. They must also ensure that all providers are working within their FTE. This helps to avoid costly overtime.

Who has complex scheduling?

These challenges appear in all practices, but these four medical specialties feel the brunt of them:

Emergency medicine

Emergency medicine tops the list. It faces all the challenges described above. Of course, there’s the need for 24/7 coverage, meaning staff usually work 12 or even 24-hour shifts. There’s also a complex mix of staff skill levels to cover whatever emergency may come their way. Becker’s Hospital Report notes that EDs have many scheduling rules to follow too. In fact, among regular staff, there’s an average of 62 scheduling rules per year. Also, there are 300 schedule requests per year among regular staff.

Consider the high-stress level of this environment. Physician burnout is highest in emergency medicine. But scheduling software can help to reduce some of the stress.

Hospital medicine

Hospital medicine comes in at number two. Like emergency medicine, 24/7 coverage is needed. Also, it’s important that workload and hours tracking occurs among providers. Your software should be able to adapt to your group’s scheduling rules. This will ensure all providers have fair workloads.

OB/GYN

Number three on the list is OB/GYN. Like the other two, this specialty requires 24/7 coverage, but they also must have providers on call. Another challenge is balancing routine office visits with unscheduled deliveries and other emergencies. Scheduling software should have the ability to work with existing communication systems. This makes reaching the on-call provider quick and easy for your call service.

Anesthesiology

Anesthesiology is another service that has complicated scheduling. The CRNA schedule must match the surgeon schedule. This is an important detail that requires close attention. There are also on-call schedules to consider and emergency surgeries to work around. The fair distribution of case complexity is also vital to providers. Your scheduling software should make it easy for admin staff to review shifts to ensure CRNAs and surgeons work together.

Scheduling software solutions for the top medical specialties

One of the easiest ways to simplify complex scheduling is to allow self-scheduling. This puts more control in your providers’ hands and increases efficiency. Scheduling software like Intrigma’s can track scheduling rules and identify staffing shortages too. This allows your providers to have schedule preferences while staying within guidelines.

The last piece of the scheduling puzzle is transparency. This helps avoid mistakes and increases provider satisfaction. Having an accessible dashboard allows staff to see who is working what shifts. Such transparency helps ease concerns that certain providers get stuck with undesirable shifts. It also makes covering last-minute openings a breeze.

Although medical specialties are naturally complex, Intrigma’s scheduling software can make things a little easier. To learn more, contact Intrigma.

Poor_Staffing_And_Scheduling_Are_Causing_Nurses_To_Leave_The_Profession

Poor Staffing And Scheduling Are Causing Nurses To Leave The Profession. Could Employing Self Scheduling Techniques Be The Answer To Stay In The Game?

“Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.”

Jim Bishop

Time. It’s that thing that keeps ticking away on a clock. And for nurses, time and flexible work schedules are essential to maintaining a healthy work life balance. At the present time, when an abundant number of nurses are wanting to exit the profession, a happy work life balance is crucial.

What the COVID-19 Pandemic Taught Us About Staffing And Scheduling Regimens

There’s no doubt COVID-19 took the world by surprise. The surge of COVID-19 patients created a nightmare scenario which overwhelmed many hospitals. While these hospitals and healthcare systems became depleted, frontline healthcare workers suffered from burnout.

Frontline healthcare workers are an extremely vulnerable population who are also susceptible to the COVID-19 infection and many other pathogens. Some healthcare workers became infected with COVID-19 and unfortunately, some of them lost their lives. Many healthcare workers today are suffering mental health issues due to the increased mortality rates in the hospital and increased workload.

A survey conducted in 2020 by the American Nurses Association’s (ANA) non-profit branch The American Nurses Foundation, where 22,316 nurses participated, discovered that 71 % of young nurses felt overwhelmed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Due to work having a negative effect on their physical and mental health, 47 % of those nurses who were surveyed stated that they plan to leave the nursing profession. The study further noted that 45 % of nurses surveyed planned to leave the nursing profession due to insufficient staffing ratios.

Having ample backup staff and planning geared towards an efficient workforce should be the top priority for all healthcare systems in the present and in the future. It’s essential to ensure safe patient care to all patient populations. Many hospitals were able to recruit nurses from outside agencies to supplement and replenish their work force during the COVID-19 crisis. This came with a hefty price tag as some nurses reported making on average from $5200-$10,000 per week.

A study published in the Infection Control Journal of Epidemiology in 2020, found that sufficient back up of uninfected healthcare workers should be the main priority in staffing and scheduling in hospitals and community healthcare clinics. The study further noted that in order to optimize staff scheduling and to reduce COVID-19 infection rates, the interaction between various healthcare workers needed to be minimized. Placing limits on the patient population that healthcare workers are exposed to was also shown to have benefits to decreasing infection. For example, the study recommended that in order to preserve the hospital workforce, physicians and nurses should share rotations that are at least 3 days long, with 12-hour nursing shifts.

Nurse Autonomy + Flexible Work Schedules = Better Self Care And Staffing Ratios

Let’s face it, life on planet earth is a busy one. We all should be working to live instead of living to work in order to improve our quality of life. Flexible work schedules are key to longevity for nurses in the healthcare workforce. Nurses who have greater freedom and control with their work schedules and are able to use self-scheduling techniques in their hospital units, report improved job satisfaction. However, there are studies that found negative outcomes to

self-scheduling. The study pointed out that there were barriers to collecting data as well as enablers which made the study process difficult.

Any nurse manager will cringe at the constant patient census fluctuations that can happen in a hospital unit on a day to day basis. It’s true, there’s so much unpredictability that even the world’s best psychic could have problems figuring out the best nurse to patient ratios needed. Nurse managers are increasingly using alternative work arrangements to get their staffing ratios under control for better patient safety. Some alternative work arrangements include: shift work, temporary work, and non-standardized employment relations.

Flexible schedules for nurses, in order to ensure a proper work life balance should be the number one priority to consider for all hospital nurse managers who are in charge of staffing their units and nurse workforce. It’s also the answer to prevent new nurses from prematurely exiting the profession and to safeguard both their physical and mental health.

The important thing to remember is that nurses are not robots, they are people. They have lives that are meant to be lived outside of the hospital. Hospitals should search for innovative self-staffing techniques and technology to better serve their nurses and retain staff.

At a time where many nurses are wanting to exit the profession causing a nursing shortage that has a potential to have catastrophic consequences, nurse autonomy in scheduling could be the answer to preserve the nurse workforce and divert a shortage in the nursing profession. Improving nurse scheduling can also improve the nurse burnout rate and improve mental health as well as work satisfaction.