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High Quality Hospitals have High Quality Staffing Practices

in Order Management
Higher quality staff at lower costs
Making a serious commitment to your hospital’s staffing practices and the technology you use is critical to improving staff quality while lowering costs.

In the past two years, ‘meaningful use’, ‘health data exchanges’, ‘accountable care organizations’ and other buzzwords of healthcare reform have put a bright light on the potential of information technology to improve the delivery and coordination of care. However, I am continually surprised at how little focus hospitals put on applying these same technology benefits toward improving their staffing of care providers.

Certainly it seems obvious to say that high quality staff will deliver high quality care, and even a fantastic EMR and the latest devices and procedures are useless in the hands of a poorly trained or under-staffed team. But in today’s cost-conscious healthcare environment, it can be difficult to follow through and continually deliver highly trained, appropriately staffed care teams.

The risks for the hospital go well beyond the additional cost for over-staffing. An article published recently in Fierce Healthcare highlights a recent investigation in Pennsylvania where lack of nurse staffing led to two patient deaths, in a medical center with a high number of unfilled nursing shifts.

http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/nurse-shortages-result-patient-deaths-strikes/2011-08-09

In order to provide safe nurse staffing levels, most hospitals need to rely on contingent staff. High quality hospitals take responsibility for the training and onboarding of contingent staff, to ensure that they are ready and able to deliver quality care. Unfortunately, contingent nurse staff are an easy target when things go wrong. Johns Hopkins recently published a study on the use of temporary nurses in the Emergency Department, which the media widely interpreted to be a quality issue with the nurses.

However, the real issue is the process the hospital follows for ensuring that they are hiring qualified temporary staff, and that staff are appropriately trained for their shift. This Staffing Talk article shows just how the media misread the research.

http://staffingtalk.com/dont-blame-temps-media-wrong-johns-hopkins-temp-staffing-research/

Many hospitals do understand that information technology can be applied to staffing practices to improve quality, while reducing costs. ShiftWise is fortunate to work with leading hospital systems to place qualified temporary staff, manage credentials and qualifications, and track the status of training completion — automating critical functions and reducing the risks associated with hiring and placing quality temporary staff.

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