Nursing labour is one of the biggest expenditures in acute care today, consuming about twenty-five to thirty percent of a hospital’s overall budget. It’s challenging to manage staff in a dynamic environment where demand is unpredictable and patient engagement is critical. Healthcare organisations are under pressure to better manage labour costs and can be penalised for re-admissions and lapses in quality of care delivery. Attempts to compensate for the current nursing shortage can result in under-staffing, staff burnout, excessive use of outside contract labour and scheduling discord.
A key part of the problem is that the infrastructure for managing the patient care workforce is bound by rigid and outdated policies, processes, and procedures that do not accommodate ever-evolving care models. Further complications arise as hospitals consolidate, merge, or build out their network and have a need to standardise and optimise staffing across a broader enterprise. Health systems need new methods to manage and measure the outputs of their staffing systems in order to enhance the productivity and flexibility of their clinical staff.
To optimise today’s patient care workforce, health systems must take a holistic view to help support the change initiatives that impact all areas of a hospital or healthcare network. This requires both a qualitative and quantitative solution to manage the dynamic nature of a staffing network in which many aspects are acting and reacting in parallel. It also necessitates a data- and demand-driven optimisation model to meet coverage and staff preferences while recognising the multitude of system constraints and work rules.