Guest Column | February 21, 2017

10 Things You Need To Know Before Creating A Strategic Workforce Management System

Mobile Workforce Management

By Alan Bateman, Director of Health Industry Workforce Management Strategy at Infor

Rising labor costs, a competitive hiring market, value-based payment models, and millennial worker expectations are rapidly changing the healthcare workforce landscape. Now is the time to take a careful look at a more strategic, patient-centered approach to workforce management. A patient centric workforce management model is intentionally designed to empower clinicians, and other staff, to put the patient at the epicenter of all activities. Such models are focused primarily on patient needs instead of labor logistics.

Why Does The Old Workforce Management Model No Longer Work?

1. Labor costs deplete revenues by 50 percent or more. In order to meet bottom line results, while still providing high quality patient care, a workforce must be carefully selected, managed, and deployed. Workforce management systems are made up of several systems including time & attendance, scheduling, acuity, human resources, payroll, and analytics. These systems typically operate as silos and are focused on processing transactions, i.e. creating time transactions, schedules, pay checks, and so on. These are obvious and important functions needed to run the business. How are they aligned to focus on the needs of your patient? It is critical every part of the workforce continuum understands their role in meeting the needs of patient-centered care at your organization.

2. The move toward value-based payments means patients must be at the center of any successful workforce management program. Seventy-five percent of providers currently participate in at least one value-based payment model. The business intelligence contained within these systems can help measure and predict outcomes in order to maximize reimbursement. In the old workforce management model, access to this data often times requires external applications and the focus is typically on transaction processing.

3. It comes as no surprise nursing workload and scheduling directly impacts employee satisfaction numbers. If schedules are not streamlined, and fair, it can lead to heavy nursing workloads which negatively affects job satisfaction and ultimately results in high turnover.

4. Millennials will account for 75 percent of the workforce in 2025. They expect access to mobile tools to do their job, including everything from an EMR to scheduling. Millennials also want control over when they work and with whom they work.

5. A workforce management strategy that includes analytics can help cut down on administrative costs, which make up 25 percent of healthcare budget expenses. Analytics should correlate data in a way that is meaningful and actionable.

What Core Components Are Required To Make This Strategic Shift?

1. Reposition your workforce management solution as a strategic tool. Make sure technology is deployed correctly, otherwise return on investment suffers. Start with the patient. What are the needs of the patient? Who is the most qualified staff to care for that patient? What are the combined needs of the patients on the unit? What is the optimal skill mix that balances cost and quality?

2. Enable data-driven analytic functionality that forecasts direct care needs and allows nurses to work at their skill level. Studies show nurses working at the top of licensure provide better patient care.

3. Recognize that increasing workforce demands put patient care at risk. Creating transparency in scheduling allows staff to choose preferred shifts and match skills to patient acuity.

4. Apply real business intelligence, integrated from multiple systems, to make decisions.

5. Keep your eye on the bottom line. An effective workforce management system balances costs and quality.

By implementing a patient-centered, strategic workforce management model, you can reduce cost, improve employee job satisfaction, and improve overall patient care.