Covid-19 has shaken the healthcare industry in many ways, but the one shift that will continue to challenge us long into the future is the staffing shortage amongst nurses and clinical staff. Here we’ll explore how centers can prevent shortages, maintain operations with limited staff, and assess whether or not they’re as understaffed as they think.
The time to prepare for staffing shortages is now. Consider cross training individuals across positions and, in the event a vital position falls empty, you’ll be prepared and center operations won’t grind to a halt.
Cross training doesn’t have to be across lateral positions. Identify experienced and capable staff and start preparing them for higher positions. Employees who see growth opportunities in their center are less likely to leave and, if a supervisor position is suddenly vacant, you’ll have internal options for filling the role.
Keep your finger on the pulse of your center by regularly sitting down with employees to gauge their satisfaction with duties, benefits, and compensation. Employees will be more likely to speak with management before leaving for other opportunities, giving you a chance to make a counter offer and keep your staff intact. Oftentimes this is more affordable considering the hidden costs of onboarding and training a new employee.
If your staff is struggling with ongoing shortages, keep them updated with the hiring process, while setting reasonable expectations. Let them know what you are doing to alleviate their challenges by explaining where the hospital is in the hiring process and how the position will be coved.
Assess Your Shortages
When we first begin work with a new partner we begin by reviewing current operations and staffing levels. We shadow each position to get a sense of a normal day and what is required for employees to be successful in their duties. From here we compare them to a baseline we’ve established by assessing centers across The WCA Network.
By comparing this data to the center’s current strengths and weaknesses, we can begin to identify where staff needs to be reduced, bolstered, or shifted around. It’s not unusual at this stage to find that centers are actually over-staffed.
Think Before You Hire
When faced with staffing issues, wound centers typically request more staff immediately without looking into the root of the problems or defining areas of inefficiency. Before requesting additional staff, ask yourself what issue are you trying to solve and is there another way to address the issue without adding staff.
For example, often we see patient scheduling that doesn’t line up well with the time appointments actually take, leading to a poor patient flow. Patients become upset with long wait times and appointments back up, forcing the clinic to go into overtime. On the surface, this may seem like a staffing issue but it isn’t and can be solved easily with better scheduling processes.
Consider Technology Tools to Support Staff
The answer to staffing shortages isn’t always more people, sometimes it’s better technology that can empower your current workforce. The baseline technology tool for any outpatient program is the EMR. However, installing an EMR isn’t a magic button that will generate all of the operational support you need. Our Luvo platform is a suite of technology tools that acts as the engine for centers in The WCA Network. It houses all center appointments and patient data, generates reports, provides documentation review resources, and connects your program to operational and clinical experts that can help you address staffing concerns. It becomes an extension of your staff to maximize their effectiveness.
Healthcare is facing an unprecedented shortage of workers which means you are not alone in your struggle to keep outpatient services like wound care equipped for the ever growing patient population. If you need help, we’re only a phone call away.