Centralized Staffing and Scheduling in Healthcare: The Journey is Worth the Reward

Centralized Staffing

A centralized staffing and scheduling model is not a new concept in healthcare, but the pandemic has brought this standardized approach to staffing into a new light. During the pandemic many healthcare systems realized their current decentralized staffing and scheduling model resulted in limited system-wide visibility to efficiently manage their labor resources across their organization. Staffing to demand with the right resources amidst intense focus on the safety and wellness of employees and patients is critical.  Healthcare organizations are focused on expense management not only for staffing resources, but as patient volumes have been fluctuating their financial health has been challenged. 

Centralized Staffing

In the past few months, we’ve talked to customers that have either successfully implemented a centralized staffing and scheduling model or embarking on this endeavor due to their experience during the pandemic. They’ve shared how important labor resource visibility across the enterprise is to be able to quickly and cost-effectively respond to unexpected surges and declines in volume and how it will be even more crucial moving forward. 

First Things First 

One of the first things organizations need to do is to ensure it has a strong governance structure in place to support their workforce management initiatives. The governance team should consist of a multidisciplinary team with support from executive leaders, share a cohesive workforce management vision, support rapid decision-making at the appropriate management level, support clear communications, and drive consistent application of organizational policies. 

Once the governance structure is in place, organizations need to ensure they are leveraging their scheduling technology to its fullest. By optimizing their scheduling solution, they can ensure they are using all the functionality available to meet the needs of the different departments, managers and end users. 

Another imperative area in building an effective and sustainable centralized model is standardizing scheduling and staffing practices across the organization. As you initiate the standardization process and support consistent use of policies and operational guidelines, you should identify and collate all the different processes and procedures that differ between departments. It will help identify potential standardization challenges while also enabling you to consider current similarities when standardizing best practices across the organization.

One Customer’s Journey

In a recent American Hospital Association webinar, Transforming Workforce Governance & Staffing Models to Withstand a Crisis, 81% of attendees that responded to a live poll said they do not believe their organization has system-wide visibility to the right data to quickly and effectively adapt staffing models in response to changing demands. During the webinar Kronos and Workforce Insight were joined by a joint customer Melissa Winfield, System Nursing Operations Manager at BayCare Health System to discuss BayCare’s journey to a centralized staffing and scheduling model. Melissa mentioned one of the biggest challenges identified is some of their staff were getting canceled, yet they had a climbing overtime spend. They wanted to have the ability to ensure that their core staff is working to their appropriate employed equivalent, yet limiting overtime spend.  This was something that significantly pushed for the movement of shifting their processes to a centralized model. They wanted visibility across the system to be able to utilize staff effectively and redeploy resources as needed.  

Melissa also discussed how BayCare Health System built an internal mobile float pool which allowed them to have plenty of resources that they were able to deploy throughout the system.  However, one of the challenges they were facing before their journey was, they did not have a formal process to identify organizational needs and then shift them from hospital to hospital to where the critical need was. “By providing visibility into staffing needs we can understand where in the organization critical needs exist on a shift-by-shift basis allowing us to shift those very critical resources to where they needed to be. Certainly, there were times that that mobile pool could not meet the demand of staff, and at that time we did need to contract travelers. Visibility to be able to see staffing and mobilize staff to where they are most needed allows us to limit the need of the high labor resource such as travelers.”

Benefits of a Centralized Approach

In a centralized staffing model, a staffing leader manages this centralized function and is accountable for creating schedules and assisting with day-to-day staffing support. The staffing function assesses the staffing for all units across the enterprise and fills the necessary shifts with the staff from their internal resources based on availability and qualifications. Automated skills and certification tracking help ensure that only nurses with the right training and experience are scheduled in the right place at the right time. 

Centralized staffing and scheduling enable an organization to streamline processes, improve accuracy of data and reporting and reduce the administrative burden on operational leaders. By having one centralized function for policy adherence and decision making reduces any subjectivity that could impact staff morale. It also provides visibility to make real-time decisions that can help reduce unnecessary overtime spend and reliance on costly agency staff. 

Your Scheduling Technology Partner Matters

It is important that your scheduling technology partner has extensive industry expertise, delivers an enterprise-wide view of staffing resources and has experience with healthcare organizations like you.  The ideal partner can assess the current and future state of your workforce, deliver reliable workforce data and provide a scheduling solution that supports your vision. 

With the right scheduling technology partner, together you can lay a strong foundation for effective, efficient, and consistent staffing and scheduling across your organization.

Looking to the Future

The pandemic has quickly uncovered labor resource allocation challenges due to lack of visibility that many healthcare organizations have struggled with for years. One thing that may come from this pandemic is healthcare organizations have realized they need to optimize their workforce and silos of the past will not work in the organization of the future. Now is time to standardize your staffing and scheduling processes and make changes that will benefit your organization well into the future.