By Rich Miller
One of healthcare’s most vital tasks is historically one of its hardest: Making sure the right staff are always available at the right locations to meet patient care demands.
Currently, most hospitals and health systems take a segmented approach to clinical capacity management. Each individual department or service line oversees its own staffing needs. This method ensures adherence to crucial specialty-specific requirements, but it also creates disparate manual processes that limit greater visibility into staffing trends. Consequently, it does not lend itself to allowing staff resource optimization at the department level—let alone across the enterprise.
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By leveraging scheduling data, however, health systems open new opportunities to maximize staff productivity while preserving staff satisfaction. Achieving this fundamental balance is possible because scheduling data is a treasure-trove of information that accurately reflects actual daily workflows. When it’s normalized and rolled into a semantically consistent enterprise view, it can spotlight both current trends and areas for improvement.
The value of advanced visibility
The key to aligning staff supply with clinical demand is advanced insight. While historical staffing data alone provides some benefits, it can’t adequately support proactive clinical capacity planning. Agile and informed staffing decisions require the ability to identify needs and address potential problems hours, days or months in advance.
Analyzing near real-time scheduling data in conjunction with historical staffing trends gives health systems the power to adjust and adapt in real-time. With data-driven visibility comes the potential for continuous change management that encourages strategic benefits including:
● Increasing clinical capacity. Evaluating staff resources at both the department and enterprise levels monthly, weekly or daily lets health systems plan further into the future and better match each clinical area’s demands to the available provider supply. Although every specialty has unique staffing requirements that benefit from local management, enterprise-wide views can serve much like a traffic control function that drives strategic accountability and ideal resource deployment.
For example, analyzing the breakdown of clinical activity by facility or location could keep staffing plans in harmony with facility management and expansion efforts. Likewise, analyzing the breakdown of clinical activity by specialty could pinpoint FTE trends and variability by department or subspecialty.