Futureproof your Healthcare Facility: Stay Ahead of Staffing Challenges

Kimberly Anderson-Mutch

Nurse staffing in the post-acute industry must continue to evolve to accommodate flexible staffing. Employee engagement and satisfaction are essential to keep and attract staff. Learn more about how to future-proof your healthcare organization to stay ahead of staffing challenges.

 

Stay ahead of staffing challenges, future-proof your healthcare organization

Utilize technology to improve nurse retention and recruiting

 

Table of Contents

Post-Pandemic Staffing

The Current Challenges in Staffing

Demand Puts Nurses in the Driver’s Seat

Nurse Recruitment and Retention

Nurse Expectations Have Evolved

Pave the Way for Career Advancement

Agency Staffing is the New Normal

Future-Proof Your Organization

Sense and Adapt with Smartlinx

Resources

 

Post-Pandemic Staffing


81% of healthcare professionals feel hopeful that technology can help improve their experience as healthcare providers.

– Notable’s State of Automation Report 2022


While COVID was the catalyst for burnout and disruption in the healthcare worker ecosystem in the post-acute space, it is no longer the primary reason nurses are leaving. In a post-pandemic world, a new baseline has been established.

With the current trends of an aging population, staff nurse decline, agency incline, and the increasing numbers of cold and flu cases, operations are running on slim margins. Nurses are feeling the strain and demonstrating they want more from employers and the industry, or they will continue to leave the profession at record levels.

Smartlinx clients are showing lower staffing levels than 2019, and these lower levels mean higher stress for nurses, causing burnout. Thus, operators are faced with a business challenge to maintain levels of quality care.

Nurses are leaving this profession due to the sheer volume and demands of patient care, and have started to point out a lack of empowerment, engagement, and autonomy. These challenges can be overcome with proactive, technology-based solutions. The biggest contributor to burnout is the burden of administrative tasks that lack the technology automation to simplify them. Using a healthcare workforce platform to manage these friction points with automation and yield insights can help operators adapt in real-time to overcome challenges.\

Post-Pandemic Staffing

Smartlinx data shows nursing staff levels are down compared to pre-COVID levels. This cements the fact that nurses leaving the profession is the catalyst the industry needs to find other means for retaining and recruiting staff.


Nursing Staffing is down 6% compared to 'Pre-Covid'


 

The Current Challenges in Staffing

Smartlinx clients report 2022 staffing levels are still below 2019 levels

Nurses are reeling from the burnout they face every single day. With the loss of staff in recent years, more responsibilities are falling to nurses with already full plates. These increasing demands and overall job dissatisfaction leave them experiencing serious mental health issues like anxiety and depression. When Hospital IQ surveyed over 200 nurses currently working in U.S. hospitals, 90% said they are thinking about leaving.

Shawn Sefton, Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Client Services at Hospital IQ says administrative burden and manual tasks are among key drivers of nurse burnout. She talks more about this in an interview with Hospital IQ, but here is a quick rundown of her findings:


42% of nurses find the manual nature of updating paperwork and discharging patients challenging and burdensome. 

Healthcare IT News


  1. Due to lack of technology-based solutions, systems, and automation, a lot of the work involved in the day-to-day of nurses is manual. This makes tasks longer, stressful, and leads to more overall work.
  2. Communication technology is lacking. Not being able to properly discuss key factors of the job with the other staff and administration is frustrating.
  3. Inefficient operational workflows are a key factor of nurse burnout. Without the structure and security of this process-oriented perk, work can get muddled and overwhelming.


Nurses suggest three areas of technological improvement to combat these issues:

53% 

want streamlined processes that ensure visibility into patient needs and communication.

45%

said better communication and coordination across departments.

40%

said improved and expanded communication and representation with hospital leadership would improve satisfaction.

– Healthcare IT News


Administration needs to adapt their technology to gain proactive insights and better accommodate issues before they arise.

 

Demand Puts Nurses in the Driver’s Seat

Both full-time employees and agency mandate flexibility


“On average, it takes between 62 and 112 days to recruit an RN depending on the specialty.”

– NSI Nursing Solutions,

NSI National Health Care Retention Report


 

Nurses are now the ones in control, establishing new work norms and expectations of operators. Administrations must be flexible with their workforce to attract more staff. The rising population age requires more health services due to age-related conditions. Lengthened lifespans stretch out the timeframe for services and puts a strain on the already thinning healthcare system. Without the proper staff, healthcare facilities are in trouble.

The average number of days it takes to recruit an RN is between 62 and 112 days, depending on specialty. When nurses leave, the organization suffers additional costs and wasted time. Retention is critical to avoid these setbacks.


The turnover rate for staff RNs increased by 8.4% and currently stands at 27.1%

– NSI Nursing Solutions,

NSI National Health Care Retention Report


 

The nurses that remain can request more flexibility from their administration. Benefit packages have now become the standard, so nurses consider myriad factors beyond vacation and pay scale such as an organization’s level of management support, expanded opportunities, and flexibility in scheduling. In order to retain and attract today’s nurses, administrations must face the challenge and adapt to the new workforce culture.

77% of assisted living providers said their overall workforce situation has gotten much worse since June due to the staffing crisis.

SENIOR HOUSING NEWS

 

Nurse Recruitment and Retention

Nurse staffing in the post-acute industry must continue to evolve to accommodate flexible staffing. Employee engagement and satisfaction are essential to keep and attract staff.

The key points of dissatisfaction revolve around nurse burnout which can be broken down into different areas of focus. One area that can benefit largely from a technology-based solution is:

Manual data entry

Nurses are using outdated technology or other systems and spending far too long on this task. According to research from 2021 done by Wakefield and Olive AI, 36% of clinicians spend more than half their day on administrative tasks.

These manual processes cause adverse effects like exhaustion, depression, sleep disorders, and PTSD. To attract and keep talent, employers need to update how they recruit and retain, especially for nursing home retention strategies. They must remove friction and administrative barriers that keep nurses from doing their job. Employers should focus on:

  1. Adding support systems to reduce burnout
  2. Automating administrative tasks
  3. Offering flexibility in shifts
  4. Enabling same-day pay
  5. Empowerment and career mapping

– NSI Nursing Solutions

 

Top Concerns Among Nurses

64% note staffing shortages

27% are being forced to work too many hours.

43% said pay is not keeping pace with the cost of living.

– 2022 Annual State of Nursing Report

 

Giving nurses the tools to do their jobs with the help of technology is a start to raising job satisfaction. A few technology-based benefits that Smartlinx can offer include PBJ reporting to reduce manual burdens, a messaging app for seamless communication, Smartlinx GO for flexibility with accepting and swapping shifts, and on-demand pay with Rain.

Rain delivers on-demand pay to nursing staff without requiring payroll integration. This means no additional cost for employer or employee, making it an easy additional benefit to help retain and recruit staff. Rain helps address financial insecurity, hiring and retaining skilled workers, and reducing employee turnover.


“Rain absolutely differentiated us and made us competitive as potential employers and added to employee satisfaction. It’s a no-cost benefit to us.”

– Lawanda Foster, MBA, Chief Human Resources Officer, Tara Cares


 

Nurse Expectations Have Evolved

“60% of frontline workers were unsatisfied with the technology provided by their employers, with 56% saying they had to use their own technology to better perform their work.”

– Forbes

The staffing crisis has allowed nurses to better evaluate their current situation. Is their employer hitting all their marks? If not, many nurses are willing to relocate for better pay, better safety conditions, or any other workplace concerns they have.


69% of nurses said they would be more likely to stay in a role if they had the support of management.

- My American Nurse


Nurses are taking the time to ask, “Am I valued where I am?” This leads to follow-up questions:

A. Am I getting paid fairly? Would I get paid more if I moved?

B. Do I have advancement opportunities and proper training?

C. Is my employer offering flexible scheduling?

D. Am I being listened to when I make suggestions to the administration?

Having an employer that stays ahead of challenges and supports staff is one of the most important factors that influences job satisfaction. Staying ahead of challenges requires:

A. Integrating tech automation to reduce administrative burdens so nurses spend more time with patients and less on paperwork.

B. Building a healthy staff model that can sense and adapt based on census and acuity.

C. Implementing a program to offer mental health care for nursing staff dealing with PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc.

Offering these benefits and solutions to nurses helps with job satisfaction, reduces burnout, and increases recruiting and retention. It also allows nurses to focus more of their time on patients with better quality care during working hours while giving them control over their personal lives. What is good for employees is good for business.

 

Pave the Way for Career Advancement

Data Sourced from Nurseslabs

Upward mobility and skills development plays an important role in nursing. Many nurses want the opportunity to train and move up in their field. Providing this benefit for your staff will hit two marks to increase job satisfaction: upward mobility and higher pay.

Nurses with higher education benefit both their employer and patients. More training means better quality care.

Offering opportunities for upward mobility is key for retaining nursing staff. When this benefit is included, job satisfaction is improved and staff is more likely to stay in the same facility. The salary for registered nurses grew 3.42% in 2021 and is expected to continue growing. With this information and career advancement opportunities, nurses have a lot to consider when choosing a new employer.


“Moving to a nurse workforce in which a higher proportion of staff nurses have at least a baccalaureate-level education would result in substantially fewer adverse outcomes for patients.”

Nurse staffing and quality of patient care, Robert L Kane, Tatyana Shamliyan, Christine Mueller, Sue Duval, T J Wilt.

Data Sourced from Nurseslabs


 

Agency Staffing is the New Normal

Since 2019, we’ve seen a 35% YoY increase in agency use among our clients.

– Smartlinx

 


 

The formula for improving the short staffing epidemic in nursing is to use agency nurses. The demand for nurse staffing is growing due to the decline in overall number of nurses and the growing elderly population needing care. There are not enough full-time employees to keep pace with this rising demand. Turning to agency nursing is becoming the new normal and increases year by year. While many may think agency nursing is too expensive, the pros of the agency nurses vs. staff nurses outweigh the cons.

 

The benefits of agency nursing are abundant:

Quality Care –using an agency means employers can search for the exact specialty needed to fill any gaps in the ever-changing shift assignments.

Reduce Risk– do not spend time checking credentials and background on candidates, agency nurses already have these completed.

Meet Critical Needs– whatever the case may be for needing to fill a role, agency nurses can staff short term to long term to always fit your schedule.

Improve Productivity– with more staff, the nurse-to-patient ratios are more even, and the work is less stressful.

You can learn how to deal with short staffing in nursing by using Smartlinx. Control your agency staffing with Smartlinx’s Staffing Marketplace. This product provides visibility into your entire staffing ecosystem in real-time.

Employers can fill shifts faster and control agency spend all with one product. Streamline your staff systems and access everything you need on one platform while still providing the highest quality care.


"Staffing Marketplace Reduces the amount of time we need to communicate with our agency vendor partners regarding things like badge IDs and reporting agency shift hours. It takes all that manual administrative work off our plates."

- Leslie Wilson, Finance Executive Controller, Tara Cares


 

Future-Proof Your Organization

At the end of the day, what matters is patient care. From hospitals to assisted living facilities, nurses are essential, and they deserve job satisfaction. With the implementation of technology solutions, your staff can see an increase in productivity and satisfaction. Be proactive, not reactive to future-proof your organization.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is there is a purpose-built platform that can take on the complexity and shifting landscape so you can be prepared for what’s next, whatever that may be. Focus on these three main solutions and you will see an improvement.

 

1. Embrace technology

The most important area you can prepare is technology. Embracing technology will help your facility optimize operations. A software platform that can manage employees is essential for any medium or large facility. Technology solutions can ease planning ahead and meeting regulatory requirements.

There is also the benefit of tracking who comes in and out of the facility to help prevent the spread of illnesses by tracking temperatures, vetting health questionnaires, and contact tracing.

HR platforms offer real-time calculations and predictions, as well as connect operations to caregivers outside the facility who are on standby. When someone calls in sick last minute, it’s paramount to be able to easily contact a replacement fast.


CDC estimates that, so far this season, there have been at least 2.8 million illnesses and 23,000 hospitalizations from flu.

– CDC FluView



2. Optimize staffing benefits and physical space

Keeping staff safe and healthy must be a priority. From ideal layouts to keep infectious patients away from the general population, to simply supplying staff with proper medical equipment and protocols, the physical space must keep staff healthy.

Staff satisfaction is also tied to the amount of flexibility given. Offering paid sick time to battle burnout and a flexible schedule to accommodate personal lives are two selling points. When unhappy or burnt out, nurses will leave in droves.

Keep your facility competitive with the right benefits and compensation. Otherwise, staff might move on to an employer that does offer these benefits.

 

3. Gain acceptance of third-party vendors

The reality of providing quality care means accepting the need to hire temporary workers. While it may not be the ideal choice due to price or familiarity, there are many positives. As mentioned before, offering quality care, reducing risk, meeting critical needs, and improving productivity are all the benefits temporary workers can bring to your facility.

Resolve staffing challenges by working with Smartlinx. Radically simplify management of your healthcare workforce. Gain transformational visibility, predictability, and control.

Our mission is to predict the needs of healthcare organizations and pioneer game-changing solutions to complex workforce challenges. Smartlinx is here to help employers illuminate by insight and propel by efficiency.

 

Sense and Adapt with Smartlinx

All these issues and concerns point to one main solution: technology. Easily adapt to the modern demands with Smartlinx, a healthcare workforce platform that radically simplifies the complexity our industry faces. Smartlinx is an end to end platform that offers transformational visibility, predictability, and control over staffing challenges. We pioneer game-changing solutions to complex workforce challenges so you and your staff can stay a step ahead. We start and end our day working on behalf of our clients, anticipating and adapting to needs in real time.>


“Before Smartlinx I was not able to predict my PBJ reporting. With Smartlinx, I have visibility to performance, in real-time, giving me the ability to adjust and improve my star rating.”

- Arthur Cooperberg, VP of Finance, Cassena Care

 

Your current system could be the pitfall for retention and recruiting. Disparate systems, data overload, and inconsistent training get in the way of having a productive staff. Smartlinx is the best and easiest way to avoid these concerns and offer your employees the job satisfaction they need.

We offer predictability:

  • Improve your data accuracy and cut through clutter.

  • Faster data retrieval for proactive work.

  • Create standardized time rules for auto ideal scheduling.

  • Mobile friendly app to work on the fly.






We offer control:

  • See the average percentage of CMS ratings improvement.

  • Keep your staff connected for easy communication on one app.

  • Get a clear breakdown of all spending on an easy-to-view dashboard.

  • Create job postings, pre-screen, and develop a shortlist with an applicant tracker.

 



We offer visibility:

  • Evaluate each employee’s attendance.

  • Keep track of licenses and certifications.

  • Engage with employees during clock-in.

  • See patient to nurse ratio and satisfaction scores.

 

Resources

No matter your industry, role, or goal, Smartlinx helps you simplify the complex, cut through the clutter, and uncover hidden opportunities.

We have multiple solutions that give you the tools for employee engagement, labor cost reduction, workforce compliance, and streamlined operations. See all our solutions:

We can build a smarter business together. Our PBJ reporting software can be used in many different types of facilities like assisted living, long-term care and senior living, plus hospitals and health systems.

You can schedule a demo to see how our software works for you.

 

We also offer an abundance of resources from our blog to SmartLinx University.

With Smartlinx University, your team can be more productive, efficient, and effective. From instructor-led, role-based training sessions to online courses you can access anytime, Smartlinx University offers several options to suit the needs of your team. From instructor-led, role-based training sessions to online courses you can access anytime, Smartlinx University offers several options to suit the needs of your team.

 

Our blog has information to on everything healthcare workplace management. Read some of our recent posts:


“Before Smartlinx, our master scheduler was spending hours upon hours in her day trying to get shifts filled, identify what shifts were available to be filled, guessing how many people were needed to fill the shifts, all of that went away when we began using the Smartlinx suite of tools. Efficiency was our biggest ‘ah-ha’ moment with Smartlinx.”

– Lawanda Foster, MBA, Chief Human Resources Officer, Tara Cares


 

Smartlinx is the leading provider of cloud-based workforce management solutions for healthcare organizations. Smartlinx’s innovative product offerings are ushering in 21st-century technology to the healthcare industry. Smartlinx provides the technologies and tools needed to adapt to shifting business conditions. We strive to build long-term partnerships, helping our clients automate their workforce management so they can focus on what matters most: patient care.

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