Staffing and scheduling is an ongoing challenge for most healthcare organizations. In a perfect scenario, you would match the right employee on the right schedule in a way that he meets the needs of the patient, while minimizing costs and maximizing patient satisfaction. This seems to be a nearly impossible task to handle routinely and often leads to healthcare organizations falling into some of the most common staffing and scheduling pitfalls.
In this article, we take a closer look at some key statistics about scheduling and staffing in the healthcare industry, along with the three most common pitfalls faced by organizations and how to avoid them.
3 common healthcare management pitfalls and how to avoid them
1. Treating different units as separate entities
The most common pitfall faced by healthcare organizations is working out their staffing needs across different departments. This mainly happens when different services (or units) are treated as separate entities, each focusing on their own staffing needs. The main problem with this model is the lack of transparency across different units since each of them are being treated separately. For instance, this makes it difficult for available staff to fill in staffing gaps in another service. When handled this way, this limits the organization’s ability to develop a proper staffing strategy to cater to the whole business.
To avoid this pitfall, start off by grouping your staff according to their skills, rather than by the department they are normally assigned. This way, you have data at hand to fill in available shifts based on their qualifications. When managing your staff schedules this way, it enhances interdepartmental communication and allows you to develop an organization-wide staffing system. When correctly implemented, this staff optimization strategy can considerably decrease overtimes and premium labor costs, while increasing employee engagement.
2. Employee burnout due to staff shortages
Staffing shortages in the healthcare industry has been a major concern for the past decade. As baby boomers continue to age and healthcare workers of this generation are retiring, the workload on medical professionals keeps piling on. This very often leads to overworked and less productive healthcare staff; a study by Medscape reports that over 42% of physicians report burnout. Even more alarming is the fact that over 400 physicians die by suicide every year. Added to this is the limited capacity of nursing programs, which outputs medical professionals in limited numbers and makes it hard to meet the growing demand for healthcare staff.
One way to make up for staff shortages is by working with a full-service locum tenens staffing agency. This can ease the pressure off your recruitment team by providing consistent locum coverage, depending on your organization’s needs. Additionally, a full-service locum tenens staffing agency can help you save some precious time by handling staff staffing details such as licensing, credentialing and onboarding. Moreover, this enables you to scale your healthcare business as you have access to a range of coverage options, whether it is for immediate, short-term or vacation coverage and even for long-term projects. Properly filling in staffing holes with the help of a locum tenens agency can potentially reduce employee burnout, enhance your organization’s productivity and result in improved patient care.
3. Poor workforce scheduling
Healthcare workforce scheduling is often a tedious task. As mentioned earlier, many organizations still rely on legacy workforce management systems, such as paper-based models or spreadsheets. While these manual scheduling tools are simple to use, they are not optimized to deal with the huge number of variables that often come into play on a daily basis, such as no-shows, PTOs or surges in demand. Having an unoptimized staff scheduling system in place leads to lower productivity level, employee morale and strongly impacts on your healthcare delivery quality.
Turning to software or app to schedule medical staff allows you to organize your workforce on the go and handle unexpected changes swiftly. Moreover, this enables you to track down the time worked for each employee and accurately automate overtime calculations, which give a productivity boost to your payroll department. Additionally, modern scheduling software allows your workforce to manage their own availability, time offs and helps them trade shifts when needed.
These features are even more helpful if you run multiple healthcare organizations, since it can give you an overview of your whole workforce directly through an app on your mobile device.
Off you go
Managing healthcare staffing and schedule may look like a daunting task for many. Yet, dodging these three common pitfalls is necessary if you want your organization to play the long-term game. Developing a sustainable healthcare management strategy starts by optimizing your organization’s productivity, costs control and care quality.