Evaluating and Purchasing Staffing Technology Solutions
At the 2017 ANA Annual Conference earlier this year, a convened panel of experts, as part of the ANA Advisory Board for Workforce Management, shared a presentation entitled Staffing, Scheduling and Acuity: A New Decision Tree for Nursing. The findings behind that presentation have now been published here.
The goal of this convened panel was to help develop an evaluation/selection tool for nurses in any area of practice for choosing or improving acuity and workforce staffing/scheduling systems. One of those experts happens to be our very own Shane Parker, co-founder and Chief Nursing Officer at ShiftWizard. We thought it might be helpful for our readers to hear his take on that presentation and what it means for them.
Here are Shane’s key takeaways and general advice to hospital leaders considering staffing technology solutions:
Healthcare staffing is becoming increasingly complex
Staffing has always been a huge issue within hospitals and it is more complex now than ever before. Hospital leaders need to think beyond just managing their staff. They really need to think about what scheduling processes need to be implemented to ensure that they match the right staff to the right patient.
Most hospitals are unaware of available technology
I think one of the most surprising things we learned throughout this process was the fact that so many hospital nurse leaders don’t currently use or don’t even know about staffing technology solutions. Informal surveys conducted in 2017 showed that only 4 out of 60 participants were using a staffing technology solution.
People are truly surprised to learn that there are really good technology solutions out there to replace tedious and error-prone manual processes. They seem amazed when they learn how much staffing and workforce management technology has advanced, and how much of what they do can actually be automated.
They are also surprised to hear about the powerful ROI that others have experienced using these solutions including:
- Reduced overtime costs
- Increased staff productivity
- Improved patient care/patient safety
- Improved patient satisfaction
- Improved staff satisfaction
Older software often casts a shadow
Some nurse leaders may have tried staffing technologies in the past and had a less than positive experience. Based on that experience, they assume all similar technologies will be difficult to use or that they simply won’t meet their needs. They may not realize how much these technologies have evolved, and that next-generation solutions like ShiftWizard’s can make things so much easier, and make them more successful.
Good technology can’t fix bad processes
I think its important that nurse leaders understand that good technology can’t fix bad management or bad processes. Those bad practices can be carried over into an automated solution. The purchase of a new staffing solution is the perfect time to review staffing practices and procedures to ensure that does not happen. It’s also a great opportunity for leadership across different departments to standardize those practices (as much as possible), and to choose a solution that provides the transparency and access needed to create these standards. This is especially important when it comes to contingency labor such as travel nurses or with agency nurses who float across multiple departments.
Use your voice
Staff nurses need to be involved in purchasing decisions. They may not realize the tremendous amount of power and influence they hold, especially when they come together. They need to speak up to get a solution that truly meets their needs. The C-suite and IT department shouldn’t be making those decisions without the staff nurses’ input. If they don’t speak up, they are likely to get a “solution” that doesn’t really meet their needs.
Understand how real-time data makes a real difference in the bottom line
Nurse leaders need to tie their staffing technology purchasing decisions to hospital outcomes and measurement systems with an understanding of how staffing affects not only staffing outcomes but also patient outcomes, including patient safety and patient satisfaction. HPPV (hours per patient per visit) and HPPD (hours per patient per day) are two of the key measures we hear a lot about today. See our recent press release to learn more about how we are helping hospitals measure HPPV and HPPD.
Do your homework
Purchasers need to do a more thorough job of vetting technology vendors. As part of that that vetting process, they need to speak to multiple customer references, and not just the ones provided by the vendor if possible. They should also demand a trial to ensure that the solution actually does what it says it does and that it will meet their specific needs. ShiftWizard offers a free trial for qualified hospitals for that very reason.
Choose best-in-breed over do-it-all (but-nothing-great) options
It’s unrealistic to think that one technology vendor can solve all of your problems. Some vendors offer dozens of solutions, but that doesn’t mean all of their solutions are the right choice for you. One might work for you, while another one won’t. We are seeing more hospitals move away from that mindset with the goal of leveraging and integrating best-of-breed solutions. With that in mind, integration is more important than ever before.
Choose a solution built with you in mind
I would also recommend that hospitals search for a solution that was developed with them and their unique challenges in mind. There are so many workforce solutions out there that are built for retail, manufacturing, etc. While they may be great solutions, they often end up falling short in a healthcare environment.
If you would like to learn more about the ANA Advisory Board for Workforce Management presentation, or want more advice on structuring your purchasing decision process for success, let us know.