Address nurse staffing shortages with hospital workforce management software
Staffing in the face of critical healthcare worker shortages is an ongoing concern for hospitals across the country. Even before the pandemic, experts estimated a deficit of over 900,000 registered nurses by 2030.1 And the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the problem – between 2020 and 2021, the number of working RNs fell by an unprecedented 100,000.2 These nursing care shortfalls are especially problematic as an elderly population with increasingly complex healthcare needs grows, adding to the demand for hospital-based care.
Inadequate staffing leads to poor patient outcomes and takes an emotional toll on overburdened nurses, not to mention the negative impact on a hospital’s bottom line. Equipping frontline nurses and nurse managers with better scheduling tools and data will empower them to address the fallout from poor staffing more effectively and efficiently. As hospital leaders consider different innovative approaches to address this complicated issue, healthcare workforce management solutions should be top of mind.
Quality of care and patient experience
Gallup recently revealed that less than half of U.S. adults rate the quality of healthcare in the U.S. to be “excellent” or “good” and more than one in five consider it to be “poor” – both firsts in the 20-year history of the poll.3 These statistics reflect how the ongoing staffing crisis is affecting care delivery.
Insufficient staffing poses a risk to a hospital’s reputation as it can negatively impact clinical outcomes and patient experience. Studies have linked low nurse-to-patient staffing ratios with an increased risk of patient safety events – such as falls, longer lengths of stay, and higher mortality. Longer shifts and overtime correlate with higher rates of medication errors, hospital-acquired infections, and patient dissatisfaction.
According to Deloitte research, staff engagement measures, such as staff communication and responsiveness, are drivers of patient experience and, ultimately, better care. With the right workforce management strategy, hospitals can substantially improve nurse-patient engagement.
Staffing is a complex process. Patient acuity and turnover constantly fluctuate, and nurse managers are tasked with matching the skill sets of available nurses with the level of care needed to care for each patient on a shift-by-shift basis. Workforce management software can be a powerful tool to enhance the quality of care and patient experience by supporting hospital units in their efforts to deliver the right level of care to every patient.
Nurse burnout and turnover
The unprecedented nursing shortage, coupled with The Great Resignation that started in early 2021, has made it difficult for hospitals to attract and retain quality staff. According to a report from NSI, the hospital turnover rate for RNs was 27 percent and over 35 percent for CNAs in 2021.4 And a large survey of nurses conducted by the ANA in early 2022 found that over half of nurses intended or were planning to leave their jobs.5
Chronic understaffing is taking an emotional toll on those healthcare workers that choose to stay. In May 2022, the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory about burnout among healthcare workers and how it is contributing to shortages of workers, ranging from physicians to nurses and nurse aids.
Not only is burnout associated with lower-quality care, it also can increase turnover rates. In the ANA survey, insufficient staffing and the job’s negative impact on health and well-being were cited as top reasons why nurses leave.
With a proactive and data-driven approach to scheduling and workforce management, nurse leaders are empowered to better manage nurse workloads, support work-life balance and create a collaborative environment, all of which can keep nurses happy, engaged, and onboard.
The triple whamy of critical staffing shortages, increased demand for care, and skyrocketing turnover is taking a severe toll on hospitals’ bottom lines. To address shortfalls, hospital units are relying on overtime or expensive staffing agencies to fill the gaps, causing labor costs to skyrocket. The average hospital is losing between $5.2 and $9 million per year due to RN turnover alone.4 A 2021 analysis found that U.S. hospitals had collectively spent $24 billion more per year for clinical labor than before the pandemic.6 Not surprising, given that overtime hours were up 52 percent and the use of agency-based staff had increased by 132 percent.
A proactive approach to hospital workforce management can help nurse managers leverage labor data to make more cost-effective staffing and scheduling decisions without sacrificing productivity.
Achieve optimal staffing with Inovalon’s hospital workforce management software
Outdated workforce management and scheduling processes can reduce productivity, jeopardize staff morale, increase labor costs, and negatively impact patient care. Hospitals today need to be able to do the same amount or more work with fewer people. Workforce management technology can help hospitals achieve optimal staffing in the face of labor shortages while stemming burnout and turnover.
With the right technology in hand, charge nurses can more efficiently and effectively communicate resource needs to hospital leaders. Patient care teams can collaborate more easily with mobile tools that enable nurses to self-schedule and nurse management to fill open shifts. Additionally, hospital workforce management software can simplify compliance with labor laws, institutional policies, and collective bargaining agreements.
The bottom line is that proactive staffing has many positive impacts on nurses and patients, and hospital workforce management software can help nurses deliver these benefits while improving financial outcomes. Reach out today to learn how Inovalon’s workforce management technology can help solve your organization’s staffing challenges.
1 “A United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast,” Stephen P Juraschek, Xiaoming Zhang, Vinoth Ranganathan, and Vernon W Lin, The American Journal of Medical Quality. September/October 2019: 473-481, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31479295/
2 “A Worrisome Drop In The Number Of Young Nurses,” David I Auerbach, Peter I Buerhaus, Karen Donelan, and Douglas O Steiger, Health Affairs, April 13, 2022, https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20220412.311784/
3 “Americans Sour on U.S. Healthcare Quality,” Lydia Saad, Gallup, January 19, 2023, https://news.gallup.com/poll/468176/americans-sour-healthcare-quality.aspx
4 “2022 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report,” NSI Nursing Solutions, March 2022, https://www.nsinursingsolutions.com/Documents/Library/NSI_National_Health_Care_Retention_Report.pdf
5 “Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses Survey Series: COVID-19 Two-Year Impact Assessment Survey,” ANA, March 1, 2022, https://www.nursingworld.org/~4a2260/contentassets/872ebb13c63f44f6b11a1bd0c74907c9/covid-19-two-year-impact-assessment-written-report-final.pdf
6 “PINC AI Data Shows Hospitals Paying $24B More for Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic,” Premier, October 6, 2021, https://www.premierinc.com/newsroom/blog/pinc-ai-data-shows-hospitals-paying-24b-more-for-labor-amid-covid-19-pandemic
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