There are many things that keep hospital CEOs awake at night and a recent study conducted by Frost & Sullivan uncovered the top challenges that need to be addressed. Not surprisingly, the need to optimize workforce efficiencies for cost reductions was among the top challenges. But how do they address this challenge?
GE Healthcare sponsored a Becker’s Hospital Review research initiative surveying 95 healthcare executives about their workforce management strategy. The study discovered that workforce management is a priority for the vast majority of healthcare executives, and staff satisfaction was cited as the workforce management tactic that has the biggest impact on patient satisfaction. It makes sense…if a nurse is having a bad day that is going to impact the patient in some way.
The results also revealed a large gap between strategy and practice – Only 19% of respondents are using automated workforce technology to enable their staff satisfaction tactics.
How do you tie your workforce management strategies to patient satisfaction? A great example of this is NorthCrest Medical Center, a not-for-profit community hospital serving Northern Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. Quality has always been a focus for NorthCrest. When patient satisfaction scores started to decline, leadership discovered the organization wasn’t optimizing the workforce. They were able to turn that around through more efficient workforce strategies that created a more engaged workforce, which enabled improvements in quality care and patient satisfaction scores. Read the NorthCrest case study to learn how they did it.
Angie Beard, CNO at NorthCrest communicates their strategy best: “By taking a holistic approach to staffing and scheduling that focuses on creating a positive working environment for employees, we have been able to improve the overall patient experience.”
I’m pretty sure the leaders at NorthCrest are sleeping better these days.
The Importance of Analytics
In my first blog I spoke about the importance of analytics for the HR function. How do you prepare your organization for future workforce needs if you do not know what the makeup of your workforce is today? How are you utilizing the technology that you have available to you in order to provide data and metrics to your leaders to enhance their awareness of the current state of the workforce?
I also shared that we have been working on leadership dashboards as well as a workforce report in collaboration with Physician Services and Lakeland University (training and development). It seems like we started talking about a workforce report years ago and when I look back on my notes we actually began discussions in 2011 on this topic. For years we struggled which seemed to hold us back from moving forward in actually creating either of these resources for our leaders. The statements below, or false assumptions, seem to summarize what we have been wrestling with for the past few years.
- We have to have perfection.
- We can’t feasibly create a quarterly dashboard without integrated technology solutions.
- Our systems are not able to produce the data that we need.
- We will have to go to great lengths to manually adjust, verify and produce the data.
Where Did We Start?
What we ended up realizing just a short time ago is that we, as human beings, were holding ourselves back – not the technology. We realized that we needed to embrace the technology that we currently had at our fingertips and begin to understand how we could use the functionality and data already available to begin to produce data that our organizational leaders had been asking for.
For some time we thought that we had to have a fully integrated HRIS system in order to produce the data that the organization needed from our function. Would this help us if we had a fully integrated system? Absolutely. Should it hold us back? Absolutely not.
Why? A phrase that I am beginning to understand and love is that we cannot let perfect get in the way of good.
Optimization of Technology- Lakeland’s Journey
We are currently in the process of collaborating with our GE Healthcare Client Executive to evaluate our utilization of the Human Resources and Payroll (HRP) system we have in place. We also utilize CentricityTM Time and Attendance and CentricityTMStaffing and Scheduling. We could easily sit back and make excuses for why we are not able to fully embrace metrics and analytics until we have other systems integrated with HRP; however, we realize that this would be foolish.
We implemented HRP over two years ago and realized recently that we have not taken any time to go back and evaluate how well we are utilizing the system capabilities and more importantly if we are even fully aware of all of the capabilities that the system has.
I am no expert although I believe that the value of reviewing system utilization and optimization are underestimated. Why? When we implemented our system we implemented a number of things ‘as is’. This means that we took our current manual processes and automated them without taking the time or seeing the importance of streamlining and assessing how we can create a more efficient workflow.
We also have been making efforts to educate and maintain ongoing training and development for our entire team of HR professionals as we embrace the system and begin to exercise new muscles as I like to call it. What does that mean? Many of us in the HR profession did not go into this field because we loved data, metrics, and analytics nor do we all come to the table with keen skills in these areas. I always try to relate things at work to examples that people can understand and connect with on a personal level. So I think of when I try a new sport, or a new workout routine and my muscles the next day are sore. I am sure many of you experience this if you rake the yard all day or tend to your garden after a long winter and you have trouble even getting out of bed the next day right? That’s because you are using muscles that you typically don’t use and they are sore. The more you use the muscles the more they build up and the more they support you right?
The same holds true with people and technology. We need to constantly challenge ourselves and our teams to work out new technology muscles: to gain skills related to HRIS capabilities, to become more familiar with the technology we have in place and to constantly provide opportunities and challenges for our team to use what they are learning.
We are currently doing this in a few ways at Lakeland:
- Collaborating with GE Healthcare to gain insight on best practices, enhancements and system configuration
- Working out new muscles as HR professionals by creating the leadership dashboard and providing opportunities for our team to gain working knowledge and practice with our current technology
- Utilizing opportunities like the upcoming Centricity Live 2016 conference in Phoenix this May to network with colleagues, spend time with GE team members and gain insight from organizations across the U.S.
The Term “Value” for the HR Function Has Changed Drastically
When I sit back and look at the years that I have spent in HR I quickly realize that value has a new meaning for HR professionals. Value nowadays is the impact that workforce tools, analytics and resources have on the business and the bottom line. It is not about HR it is about how our HR professionals utilize their knowledge and tools to support each and every business unit of the healthcare system. We, as HR professionals, are successful only if and when the organization is successful.
I do not believe that we can begin to add the value that is desired and critical until we embrace the use of technology and supporting our HR professionals in embracing the use of technology as one of the most important tools that we have.
See, to me, technology plays a critical role in our success although technology isn’t what alone is hindering our organization’s success. I believe it is the ability for our workforce to embrace technology, learn how to optimize the resources we have and use the systems we have in place.