Streamlining scheduling

May 1, 2011

Ohio regional healthcare enterprise uses
Web-based workforce-management system to increase efficiency.

Terry Boys is
CNO and VP
of nursing care
services for
Health Partners.

Hospitals of all sizes continue to be challenged by outmoded workforce-management solutions. Things were no different at Ohio's 285-bed Springfield Regional Medical Center (SRMC) and 25-bed Mercy Memorial Hospital (MMH).

The two hospitals, along with specialty facilities, comprise Community Mercy Health Partners (CMHP), which serves Ohio's Clark and Champaign counties.

A paper-based scheduling and staffing system was still in place at both hospitals in early 2009. “It was a labor-intensive, redundant and time-consuming process fraught with errors,” says Terry Boys (BSN, MSN), CMHP's CNO and VP of nursing care services.

Although agency staffing was minimal, incentive pay expenditures were very high.
“With only a three-day maximum view ahead to a full schedule, the manual workforce-management process was very reactive, with scant planning capabilities,” explains Boys. “The staff had little advance notice of open shifts that they were qualified to work; float pool nurses had no clear view of potential opportunities; and nursing managers lacked access for real-time changes.”

Boys made a computerized workforce-management system a priority.
“I knew from past experience that it would raise efficiencies and lower costs,” she says.

Finding a solution

After conferring with CMHP's CFO on the need for an automated solution, Boys began discussions with CNO counterparts throughout CMHP. Other CNOs were in the process of implementing ShiftSelect, a Web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution from workforce-management solution provider Concerro.

After assembling representatives from staffing and scheduling stakeholders, Boys and the group began looking at ShiftSelect. Following detailed conference calls, the vendor demonstrated its solution to the group. According to Boys, the Concerro solution emerged as the superior choice due to its Web-based SaaS nature and an innovative incentive management application that awards points to nurses who fill open shifts. The points can be redeemed for a variety of online catalog items ranging from retail and restaurant gift certificates to big-ticket items such as HD TVs. The customized portal can be accessed through the Internet.

Once stakeholders agreed on the solution, Karen Gorby (RN, MSN), director of clinical services, led project implementation. “In addition to fostering efficiency, flexibility and staff empowerment,” she says, “the lack of expensive hardware and licensing expenditures and replacement of incentives would more than pay for the operational expense of ShiftSelect.”

Implementation and rollout

The plan was for simultaneous implementation and rollout at both hospitals. Boys and nurse managers began the staff outreach in the first quarter of 2010.

The next step in education and outreach was a letter to all staff members detailing the solution and profile-creation process. The profiles would allow nurse managers to verify that each nurse had the proper credentialing and competencies for any open shift chosen. Once created, profiles were checked and approved by managers before go-live, which was set for July.

Results, rewards and the future

The ShiftSelect solution has been a major success for CMHP and the entire nursing staff, with the staffing coordinator seeing a 50 percent reduction in workload.

While agency staffing had always been minimal at CMHP, the solution has completely eliminated use of contract agency staffing. The move from a cash incentive to a point-based rewards system has provided the greatest savings, totaling 67 percent of the former incentive expenditure.

Although open shifts are available to all qualified staff members simultaneously, those who sign up early receive more reward points. “We've learned that the staff has a growing desire to work beyond their home units as we've begun to see them getting their competencies validated, which will only increase the number of shifts we can more easily fill across departments,” says Gorby.

In late 2011, SRMC will be moving into a new hospital, where Boys and Gorby see the scheduling and staffing solution being utilized by other departments and facilities within CMHP after completion of the move.

For more information on
Concerro solutions:

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