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Tech Solutions For Managing Healthcare Staffing Shortages

Thursday January 4, 2024

The healthcare industry is facing many challenges, including a persistent staffing shortage and low employee retention. A 2023 McKinsey and Company report states that 31 percent of survey nurses still say they may leave their direct patient care jobs next year. For nursing teams, this translates into a critical need to invest in a new streamlined schedule management process to empower teams to adapt quickly.  New solutions such as automated shift filling, attendance tracking, and multi-channel communication tools can help reduce shift vacancies and ensure staffing level requirements are met. Let’s explore how we can use these technologies to create a more efficient and positive work environment to help ensure positive patient outcomes.  

The Role of Automated Shift Filling In Managing Healthcare Staffing Shortages 

 

Automated shift filling is a game-changer in managing nurse and healthcare staff schedules. Traditionally, shift management involves a significant amount of manual labor – from identifying open or vacant shifts and contacting potential staff to confirming their availability and filling one shift at a time. This technology integrates directly with a healthcare organization’s workforce management software and automates shift callouts, drastically reducing the time and effort required to fill vacant shifts. 

Automated Identification of Vacant Shifts 

The system continuously monitors the staffing schedule, instantly identifying shifts that become vacant or open due to unforeseen circumstances such as sick leaves or sudden resignations. This immediate identification is crucial in maintaining optimal staffing levels. 

Automated Shift Callouts

Once a vacant shift is identified, the automation system quickly notifies eligible nursing staff through various communication channels like Phone IVR, SMS, email, or a dedicated app. This real-time communication system ensures that vacant shifts are communicated and filled much faster than traditional methods. 

Customized Automation to Staff Preferences and Organization Rules  

One of the key features of automation shift filling is its ability to match open shifts with staff based on their qualifications, stated preferences, and organization rules like seniority. This alignment ensures that shifts are not only filled promptly but are filled with the most appropriate staff members, reducing union grievances.  

Adapt Quickly With Real-Time Staff Attendance Tracking 

 

Adding real-time attendance tracking to workforce management software is crucial, especially when looking to overcome healthcare staffing shortages. This technology makes managing absences and lateness easier and provides useful data for scheduling. Here’s how you can effectively utilize attendance tracking within your healthcare organization:  

Simple Absence and Lateness Tracking 

This feature simplifies the way nurses and healthcare staff report their absences or lateness, which is crucial for maintaining an up-to-date schedule. 

Ease of Reporting: Nurses and healthcare staff can quickly report absences or delays through a standardized system, such as an automated phone call or a text message. This ease of use encourages timely and accurate reporting. 

Immediate Update to Schedules: As soon as an employee reports an absence, the schedule is updated in real-time, allowing for automated workflows to begin.  

Real-Time Staffing Level Insights 

Real-time visibility into staffing levels is essential for managing the dynamic environment of healthcare facilities. 

Visibility of Staffing Levels: The system provides an up-to-the-minute view of staff schedule statuses, crucial for managing day-to-day operations. 

Rapid Response to Staffing Gaps: In instances of unexpected staff shortages, this immediate insight allows for an automated shift callout process to begin to ensure that the shift is filled with the most qualified employee available in minutes, without any manual intervention required.  

Data-Driven Decisions 

The historical data collected through attendance tracking is a goldmine for informing future scheduling decisions. 

Identifying Patterns: Analysis of past attendance records can reveal patterns and trends, such as frequent shortages on specific days or times. 

Predictive Scheduling: By understanding these trends, healthcare managers can predict future staffing needs more accurately, reducing the likelihood of understaffing. 

Tailored Staffing Strategies: The data allows for the development of tailored staffing strategies that can accommodate expected fluctuations in staff availability and patient load. 

To learn more check out –10 Key Features to Look for in Automated Absent Reporting Software

Keep Connected With Multi-Channel Staff Communications 

 

In the rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare, leveraging multiple digital communication channels has become more than just a convenience—it’s a strategic necessity. This approach not only keeps staff well-informed but also empowers them with greater autonomy and contributes positively to their work-life balance.  

Multiple Staff Communication Channels  

Utilizing a variety of communication methods is essential in today’s digital era, catering to the different preferences and accessibility of nursing staff. 

SMS and Text Alerts: Quick and efficient, text messages are ideal for sending out immediate notifications about open shifts or schedule changes. They are accessible even to those who may not have constant access to emails or apps. 

IVR Phone Communications: Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems add a crucial layer to the communication mix. This technology enables nurses to receive and respond to notifications via phone calls. It’s especially useful for those who prefer vocal communication or have limited access to text or internet-based services. IVR systems can be programmed to communicate information about shift openings, and nurses can respond or bid for shifts through their phone keypad or voice responses. 

Email Communications: For more detailed information, such as shift schedules for the upcoming week or policy updates, email is an effective tool. It allows for the conveyance of extensive information that can be referred back to. 

App Notifications: Mobile apps can provide a centralized platform for all scheduling needs. Push notifications from these apps can alert nurses to new shifts, shift changes, or urgent messages. 

Real-time Updates  

The ability to send and receive information in real-time is crucial in the fast-paced healthcare environment. 

Real-Time Schedule Changes: Immediate alerts about schedule changes help nurses adjust their plans accordingly, enhancing their ability to balance work and personal life. 

Shift Bids and Responses: Nurses can quickly respond to open shift notifications with their availability or even bid for preferred shifts, giving them more control over their schedules. 

Emergency Staff Communications 

In emergency situations, such as a sudden increase in patient intake or unexpected staff shortages, rapid and effective communication is key. 

Rapid Mobilization of Staff: In emergencies, the ability to quickly contact and mobilize off-duty or on-call staff is critical. Multi-channel communication ensures the message reaches as many staff members as possible in the shortest time. 

Critical Updates and Instructions: During crises, it’s vital to share critical information and instructions quickly and clearly. Multi-channel communications ensure that all staff are on the same page. 

Real-Time Coordination: Apps and digital platforms can be used for real-time coordination and updates during emergencies, helping to manage the situation more effectively. 

Next Steps in Addressing  Healthcare Staff Shortages

 

Addressing healthcare staff shortages while enhancing morale is a multifaceted challenge that requires a thoughtful approach to schedule management. By harnessing the capabilities of automated shift filling, attendance tracking, and multi-channel communication solutions, healthcare facilities can create a more resilient, responsive, and supportive working environment. This not only alleviates the strain of labor shortages but also plays a crucial role in boosting employee morale and retention. 

Ready to revolutionize your healthcare staff scheduling? Start exploring how Vocantas’s leading solutions can transform your workforce management efficiency while supporting your nursing team to provide excellent patient care. 

 

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