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Ensuring the safety and well-being of patients and staff is crucial to the success of a healthcare organization, not just because of legal, regulatory, and reimbursement obligations, but because doing so is in the hospital’s best interest and it's the right thing to do. Unsafe facilities are stressful environments that accelerate staff burnout, moral injury, and turnover; jeopardize patient safety; and result in a poor patient experience and bad reputation and outcomes for the facility. Nurses compose the largest provider group that spends the most time in patient-facing roles. As a result, prioritizing the creation and maintenance of a safe environment for nurses and patients alike should be the goal for all healthcare organizations. But often, achieving that goal is easier said than done. In this blog, we’ll explain why creating a culture of safety and engaging nurses in doing so is the first—and most important—step toward building a safe environment for all in today’s complex healthcare enterprises.
Workforce management should be a primary focus for healthcare organizations, and for good reason. Not only does a well-crafted workforce management strategy and effective technology help lower costs and increase efficiencies, it also plays a vital role in improving patient outcomes and positively impacts staff experience.
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Hospitals and health systems are under extreme pressure to contain costs, deliver high quality patient care, engage staff, comply with regulatory and reimbursement policies, and provide both patients and employees with a positive experience. Changing dynamics and increased expectations from both staff and patients are leading to innovations in both strategy and technology, and many health systems are re-thinking the way they manage their workforce and how they make staffing decisions. As Meghan Goldammer, JD, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Sanford Health explains, “While we all know that staffing challenges are nothing new to health care, we really are committed at Sanford Health to increasing our sophistication in how we tackle the issue.”
While it might seem coincidental that the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world during the Year of the Nurse, there could be no better time than now to recognize the value of nurses. The Year of the Nurse and Midwife was declared by the World Health Organization to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday on May 12. This is the first time the WHO has declared a designated year for anything. The designation was intended to highlight the contributions of nurses everywhere; to mobilize action to address the shortage of nurses worldwide; and, to reduce the effect that shortage has on the health of people everywhere. Ironically, in 2020 we find ourselves in a terrible battle, just like Florence Nightingale did on the fields of the Crimean war where she battled infections, unfathomable injuries, and mortality with shortages of supplies.
Your staff is the foundation of your health system’s success. The COVID-19 crisis has had an enormous impact on health system operations, especially on how health systems manage their staff. Going forward, healthcare leaders need to expect more from their workforce management strategy as they depend on staffing strategies that empower them to develop and deploy an agile, flexible workforce. An emphasis on leveraging healthcare staffing and scheduling systems and defining clear processes will play a critical role in achieving success over the long term.
Much of the current news coverage about the novel Coronavirus is focused on dealing with equipment shortages, such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE). These material goods are vital to the COVID-19 response. An equally important component to a successful response is ensuring that the front-line staff who will be caring for patients can be successfully deployed in a way that ensures the best patient care possible while also protecting staff from unsafe work conditions and burnout.