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Scheduling for Success

May 1, 2006
by Robert Farina
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Less workers attending to more patients means healthcare organizations will have to get creative around scheduling.

The United States healthcare system is in crisis. With 76 million Americans reaching the ages of 50-75 and a dwindling pool of medical professionals, healthcare organizations must devise new ways to optimize their existing assets — namely caregivers — while finding ways to increase service quality and diminish costs.

While this may seem daunting, smart healthcare companies are taking a proactive approach to operational efficiency and workforce management through Web-based technology. Providers embracing Internet technologies are not only able to contain costs and meet regulatory compliance, but are better able to enhance service levels by ensuring that the right worker is doing the right job at the right time. As a result, the workforce is transformed into an adaptable, profit-driving asset that contributes to the organization's success.

Strategic deployment

An effective way to achieve higher levels of quality care, while driving down operational costs, is through an advanced workforce management system. For healthcare companies, such systems permit the strategic deployment and effective management of its workforce. An investment in workforce management technology can mitigate the effects of the professional healthcare shortage on patient care by optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the current staff.

Without an automated system in place, organizations cannot properly allocate staffing or stay on top of workload fluctuations. The technology also helps determine that pay practices are being administered fairly and accurately.Robert farina

As an investment, Web-based workforce management systems enable healthcare organizations to create a balance between client demand and employee availability. Ideal applications give visibility to the enterprise and support efficient planning by automating all aspects of employee scheduling. This eliminates the need to spend time on administrative duties such as capturing employee time and getting it into a payroll system.

Efficient systems can even fine-tune the rhythm of work by generating real-time information to match workloads with the availability of employees with the right skills as well as providing vacation balances and overtime, converting that data into actionable information for better decision making. This simplifies the management of matching available resources with the delivery of patient service.

Employee empowerment

Employee productivity and morale is undeniably tied to customer satisfaction and cost reduction. Workforce technology that is personalized will empower employees to directly access their schedule and help them achieve a work/life balance. By leveraging a single-user interface, they can perform all of their work or check benefits without leaving a single screen, helping to sustain productivity and job satisfaction.

In the midst of a national nursing shortage, hospitals are balancing two major challenges — they want to replace contract workers with employees wherever possible and pool employee resources to make them available across multiple facilities within a reasonable geographic range.

With myriad federal and state laws and regulations to adhere to, the accurate tracking and recording of employee time is critical to ensuring they are paid properly and within the confines of the law. Manual time-keeping or paper-based recording are more error prone and take a lot of time.

By adopting Web-based workforce management solutions that seamlessly integrate with human resources and payroll transaction processing systems, healthcare organizations will more quickly increase revenues, eliminate redundancies, and drive up productivity. This becomes most beneficial when organizations are looking to eliminate overstaffing, coverage gaps and other reactionary workforce changes that can increase overhead costs.

Author Information:

Robert Farina is CEO of Parsippany, N.J.-based CyberShift.