Synerion Blog

How Patients Suffer From Understaffed Hospitals

Posted by Team Synerion on Oct 3, 2014 10:51:00 AM
Unfortunately, understaffed hospitals are an all-too-common issue for the healthcare industry. This is detrimental to both patients and hospital staff alike. Typically, it is caused either by underfunding, or by inefficiencies in the healthcare workforce management (WFM) process. When healthcare staffing falls short, so does the level of care hospitals can provide to their patients. Most noticeably, patients suffer from the following as a result of understaffed hospitals:
  • Longer wait times for patients
  • Increased difficulty getting appointments with doctors, particularly specialists
  • Higher employee burnout, and correspondingly, more infections among hospital patients
  • Decreased patient safety
  • Less access to tests and badly needed medical equipment
  • A myriad of other issues

For years, understaffing of nurses has been a particularly salient issue. Many claim chronic hospital understaffing directly impacts the amount of infections in hospitals, as well as leads to more deaths among patients. So how is this problem mitigated?

Often, funding and resources are at the core of this issue. Because the demand for professional and skilled healthcare workers, and corresponding labour costs, is increasing, the healthcare industry must find ways to balance efficiency, workloads, as well as the needs of patients.

Healthcare workforce management provides a way to identify gaps in healthcare staffing and determine what needs to be done to ensure that both healthcare workers as well as patients are protected. Such solutions can help not only balance labour costs and the demand for skilled medical professionals, but also ensure that staff are allocated work fairly. In particular, healthcare WFM will help healthcare staffing in the following ways:
Automatic Management of Work Processes
Hospitals need to ensure that everything from absence requests, to vacation time, to overtime and more are properly tracked in order to determine staffing needs. Healthcare workforce management allow for this, as well as determining staffing gaps through the gathering of data. Thus, they can enable healthcare organizations to assess the amount of labour required for particular tasks, which helps ensure that every shift is adequately staffed.
Furthermore, because healthcare WFM can automate administrative processes, it can free up both managers and employees to focus on role-critical tasks. The result is better patient care and employees that aren’t overworked.
Improve Retention and Recruitment
Healthcare workforce management also helps with other healthcare staffing needs, such as recruiting skilled workers and improving retention. Capabilities such as skill mapping for vacancy filling help managers find the best candidates for roles, while automated candidate identification allows you to find the individuals who meet all of the particular role requirement – thus screening job seekers for you. And because healthcare WFM systems allow you to identify outstanding candidates, you can better administer performance-based compensation and focus on retaining exceptional staff.

While the issue of understaffed hospitals is not an easy one to resolve, employing a healthcare workforce management strategy can help you ensure that your healthcare staffing needs, level of patient care, and employee needs are all adequately balanced. 

  Ultimate Guide to Reducing Labour Costs

Topics: Workforce Management, understaffing

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