Guest post by Jenny Korth, CMPE, director of Project Management and Support, Avantas.
As more patients are entering the healthcare system and organizations will need to be equipped with the right processes to ensure that care is delivered by the right person at the right time to prepare for this patient influx. Effective resource management in healthcare is trickier than in a lot of 24/7/365 industries. What makes it so is that there is not one specific blueprint to managing each hospital, or even each unit within a hospital.
Fluctuating volumes in addition to geographic location, patient and staff demographics, and differences in culture, both of the area and in the organization all play factors in making resource management in healthcare far from cut and dry. This being said, there are strategies that can be universally applied to all types of healthcare organizations (single-site hospitals, academic medical centers, multi-hospital metropolitan systems, large regional systems, and systems with extensive clinics operations) to ensure they have the staff they need to care for their patients, and are able to do so in a cost effective manner.
Key to the strategies I’ll outline below is the customization needed to meet an organization’s specific needs.
Proper Staff Size
This is the basic idea of having the right number, types and layers of staff to meet patient demand. It starts with a right-sized core staff. The “right size” will vary from unit to unit, but essentially it is the number that keeps staff working to their FTE without the need for excessive overtime, floating, or cancellations.
Relative to types and layers of staff, this is where contingency staffing sources (e.g., float pools) come into play. Depending on the size of the organization it could have as many as seven different types of contingency layering to fill in when staff are not available to take an assignment or when volume spikes. These layers can include an enterprise float pool, site-based scheduled float pool, site-based PRN pool, unit-based PRN Pool, core staff in extra shifts and overtime (although this should be used sparingly), agency, and travelers. While agency and travel staff can sometimes have a negative connotation, the fact is that by maintaining relationships with the highest quality staffing organizations in your city, you will experience reduced costs, improved coordination of resources, and, with the proper contractual stipulations, prevention of agency recruitment of your core staff members.