One of the largest problems in modern healthcare administration is the development of staffing methodology that keeps patients and professionals happy while keeping expenses low. Understaffing has been tied to increased patient mortality by countless studies. A low ratio of nurses and doctors to patients often results in poor patient outcomes, including extended hospital stays, re-admissions, and death. Given the importance of this problem, an entire industry has arisen around the staffing question.
Evidence based staffing approaches staffing from an objective perspective, utilizing data gathered from a number of sources to determine the optimum number of nurses and other personnel a hospital needs for a particular patient or group of patients. Over the last few years, this methodology has grown more commonplace as more studies are conducted and more HIT (health information technology) firms develop tools for analysis and suggestion.
There are a number of factors being integrated into these new evidence-based staffing applications, with the goal of determining staffing requirements more precisely:
- Medical diagnosis of the patient
- Age of the patient
- Best practices
- Research considerations
- Family demands
- Skill and experience of individual staff members
Those actively pursuing the advancement of evidence-based staffing use these factors and others to create staffing solutions designed to enhance patient care without expending excessive resources by overstaffing.
The benefit to patients becomes clear when considering the tight link between hospital staffing levels and mortality. By using evidence based staffing, hospitals offer care centered around the needs of each individual patient; the staff on duty under such a system will be there because of the patients’ personal requirements, not simply because it was their time to work.
As part of the same process, HIT tools can offer suggestions for treatment and other activities which might improve patient health while reducing the direct care required. In essence, such technology would replace potentially-biased “hunches” with statistical analysis of a particular patient’s condition, allowing medical personnel to focus their efforts in areas requiring a hands-on approach.
The implementation of these staffing solutions often fall on those of the staff with masters in health administration, and this is universal in hospitals across the country. The ongoing evolution of this new field of healthcare administration means new science and new HIT products arise very quickly. Healthcare administrative teams must also keep in mind that other staffing solutions can and should be utilized in conjunction with evidence based staffing, such as improved scheduling systems and maintaining an optimized staff with highly relevant experience and skillsets.
Administrative teams looking to implement evidence based staffing should understand that they will need to maintain an understanding of the field to optimize the returns they see in patient health and hospital expenses. Countless doctors in the United States, Canada, the U.K., and other countries across the world continue to study this subject. By determining which factors have the most impact and which the least, they continue to refine the data which is in turn used by HIT companies to produce useful tools. By understanding the latest science, administrative teams can cast a critical eye on these tools.
Dee Fletcher is a freelancer and ghost writer, and also enjoys guest blogging. She writes mostly about current trends or events in various industries, but also writes advice and how to articles. She works from her home in Southern California.