Nurses are the heart of healthcare, and nursing is a job that requires a lifetime of commitment and compassion. Nurses are a part of our lives. Nurses are there for significant life events including birth and death, and they are there for many of the health events in-between.
Each year between May 6 and May 12 we celebrate the dedication of these professionals with National Nurses Week. Why this week in particular? May 12 is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and the day was designated as International Nursing Day in 1974. In 1982 Ronald Regan declared May 6 as Nurses Day, and The American Nurses Association declared the entire week to be Nurse Week in 1990.
Nurses Week gives us the opportunity to recognize the dedicated and compassionate individuals who give their heart and soul to the profession of caring for patients, and it’s how we honor the individuals who have made compassionate caring their life’s work. Sponsored by the American Nurses Association, each year Nurses Week focuses on a different theme. This year the emphasis is on promoting a ‘Culture of Safety – It Starts With You’. As defined by the ANA, the attributes of a positive safety culture are openness and mutual trust; marshaling of appropriate resources, such as safe staffing- and skill-mix levels, a learning environment, and transparency and accountability—each of which are influenced by workforce management strategies.
On a daily basis I have the chance to speak with and work closely with nurses at every level, from all types of organizations. Without a doubt these individuals are passionate about their craft and like all of us who work in the healthcare industry, they are concerned about safety and the effect of various practices on their patients and themselves. Already operating under razor thin margins, the shift towards a value-based purchasing model is having an impact on how hospitals do business. With labor costs on the rise, making the connection between staffing decisions and the patient experience is important.
Hospitals want to lower costs, improve patient care and increase revenue. The workforce, and nurses in particular, is central to this strategy. Research has shown that nurse satisfaction, which includes feeling safe at work, is tied to patient satisfaction, and each can affect or influence outcomes.
A “Collaborative Staffing” model allows management and staff to work cooperatively to create schedules and fill open shifts across the organization. By using data to drive staffing it’s possible to connect the needs and acuity of the patient with the availability of qualified nurses. This strategy allows us to foster engagement and transparency, and helps ensure safe staffing levels that help organizations achieve better financial and clinical outcomes.
Nurses Week happens once a year, but the compassion and dedication nurses bring to their patients never stops. If you know a nurse, either professionally or personally, this week is for them. Be sure to thank them for everything that they do. It’s one of the hardest jobs in healthcare, but it is also one of the most rewarding.
The shift to a value-based purchasing model requires more efficient delivery of services to patients as well as reductions in unnecessary or avoidable expenditures. Healthcare organizations have strict standards to meet when seeking reimbursements for services or federal financial incentives, forcing leaders to reevaluate how money is spent across departments, and where cuts can be made to improve financial performance. Payroll software solutions help healthcare leaders keep track of money paid out to employees, and measure salary growth and overtime costs to pinpoint areas of wasteful spending.
Overtime costs are impacting the bottom line
When healthcare organizations experience reduced staffing levels or sharp increases in census, workers may find themselves staying at the hospital past their scheduled shift, racking up overtime hours in the process. While some overtime work is unavoidable, industry leaders encourage organizations to prevent overtime whenever possible, as the cost of paying workers to stay beyond their scheduled shift can add up over time.
According to national studies, over 50% of full-time nurses work overtime, averaging seven hours per nurse, per week1. For many hospitals, nurse overtime accounts for 7-10% of total hours worked2. Unmanaged overtime in the 10% range is costly, roughly $3 million for a 300 bed hospital. By reducing nurse overtime from 7.5% of total hours to 2.5%, this same hospital can save north of $1.2 million annually3.
Workforce management solutions can help managers keep better track of overtime hours to help determine what departments may need more regular staff or help from contingent staff to meet patient demands more effectively and reduce overtime hours.
Discrepancies in staff salaries
Healthcare organizations can leverage payroll and human resources software to monitor employee-related costs by comparing the salaries of workers on the same level to ensure biases are not impacting payouts. While healthcare leaders may not intentionally be paying workers inconsistently across departments or skill set, certain hiring habits may be overlooked and negatively impact profit margins.
The Medical Group Management Association’s report4 on healthcare compensation looking at 2013 data revealed inconsistencies in salary figures for CRNAs, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. CRNAs made $43,750 more in median compensation than nurse practitioners. The media salary for CRNAs was $ 154,214, $94,446 for physician assistants and $110,460 for nurse practitioners.
Similarly, data from the U.S. Census Bureau5 revealed male registered nurses are earning more money than their female counterparts despite the field historically being dominated by women. Since 1970, the percentage of male RNs has increased from 2.7 percent of total RN population to 9.6 percent in 2011. Now, 330,000 male RNs work alongside 3.2 million female RNs. The data showed male nurse salaries averaged $60,7000 per year, a 19 percent jump over the $51,100 average for female RNs.
Payroll solutions offer decision makers reporting capabilities to breakdown compensation practices by department and worker demographic to track activities and identify problem areas. When payroll solutions are fully optimized, healthcare organizations may find ways to free up capital for other areas of operations or to offer competitive salaries to incoming professionals when expanding facilities or services.
1 Bae, Sung-Heui. “Nursing Overtime: Why, How Much, and Under What Working Conditions?” Nursing Economics, 30, no. 2 (March/April 2012): 60-71.
2 The Advisory Board Company. “Data and Analytics Nursing Productivity Benchmark Generator.” Accessed July 2, 2014. http://fac.advisory.com/2014_B_NUBI_BGFramework/Main/GetSession/?var=917910FF-D016-4149-BB43-DD6666801BC0
3 Sage Growth Partners Analysis.