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Easing the Staffing Burden

June 1, 2007
by Steve Krautscheid
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Tuality Healthcare turns to a new solution to address its staffing stress

Tuality Healthcare is a hospital-based, not-for-profit, independent, community-governed healthcare system located just outside of Portland in Hillsboro, Ore. The system includes two hospitals — the 167-bed Tuality Community Hospital in Hillsboro and the 48-bed Tuality Forest Grove Hospital — as well as various medical plazas and outpatient facilities. Serving a population of about 250,000, Tuality employs approximately 1,300 healthcare workers.

Steve Krautscheid

Tuality had a serious staffing challenge it needed to tackle. Pressure and time constraints forced department managers to work with myriad staffing agencies to quickly fill numerous supplemental shifts, causing confusion and chaos. In one year alone, Tuality booked a total of 22,221 hours in supplemental shifts. The process Tuality had in place was time-consuming and extremely paper-intensive and, as with many hospitals, demand to fill shifts was overwhelming. To fill these shifts, Tuality worked with approximately 40 staffing agencies — each of which required numerous faxes, e-mails and follow-up calls as part of the process for booking candidates.

I recognized the need to explore new options for regaining control of Tuality's supplemental staffing processes. My ultimate goal was to replace the disorganized, paper-intensive staffing process with a streamlined, computerized solution. In response to my request, many local staffing agencies tried to create a solution to fit Tuality's needs. However, none could offer a system to substantially reduce the reliance on faxing reams of documents.

After carefully weighing numerous options, Tuality Healthcare selected ShiftWise, the only solution that met our staffing needs. Tuality was one of two hospitals that participated as beta sites.

The ShiftWise service gives hospitals new control over their staffing processes. It consolidates staff search, booking, billing and record-keeping into a single online service.

The ShiftWise implementation was simple. The Web-based ShiftWise solution was embraced by Tuality's Management Information Systems department and numerous department managers and soon all of Tuality's supplemental shifts were filled online.

With the ShiftWise system in place at Tuality, employees no longer need to spend hours on the phone, sending faxes and sifting through piles of credential paperwork to find and book qualified supplemental staff. Instead of taking a healthcare professional from the first agency to call in response to a staffing request, Tuality can now review nurses based on detailed credentials.

Prior to ShiftWise, Tuality's accounting and billing processes were manual and department managers tabulated invoices by department. This process made it difficult to get a snapshot of staffing expenditures by pay period and month. Now Tuality can view this information on a per-shift basis, giving the organization accurate insight into staffing costs.

With ShiftWise's reporting features, Tuality can quantify time and money spent on supplemental staffing over defined increments of time, by type of staff. For example, managers can drill down and identify how many supplemental RN hours were utilized in specific departments. If they uncover patterns and discover that a lot of money and time is being spent on particular types of staffing in a given department, managers can perform a cost-benefit analysis and determine if a regular hire would be a better solution.

As a result, Tuality has saved significant money without sacrificing quality of care.

Steve Krautscheid is employment coordinator at Tuality Healthcar, outside of Portland, Ore