This blog is taken from a recent HealthStream webinar entitled “Align Staffing to Patient Demand with Acuity and Assignment Manager.” The webinar featured Terri Epler, MSN, RN, Solution Consultant for HealthStream and Gia Milo-Slagle, Senior Director of Product Management for HealthStream and was moderated by HealthStream’s Sarah Enders.
One of the most difficult ongoing challenges faced by healthcare leaders is the need to balance staff workload with fluctuating patient demand and acuity. It is essential to safe and efficient hospital operations, but doing it effectively requires the assimilation of a significant amount of data in real-time. Data on patient acuity, census, staffing and other resources can be used to make the right decisions on staffing, but objectively assimilating that data in such a way that it supports decision-making is far from simple without the right tools.
In this webinar the presenters shared how HealthStream can help healthcare organizations create stable staffing assignments based on real-time data, seamlessly manage workload imbalances and proper ratios while elevating care for staff and patients using information that is objective, reliable and transparent.
Hospitals have all of the data that they need to align staffing with patient demand, but actually leveraging the data for that purpose requires a solution that can aggregate the data into meaningful recommendations. Recently many states have begun legislating mandates on nurse-to-patient ratios. The legislation is well-meaning, but may still not result in optimal staffing. In a recent blog, Mary Ann Fuchs, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, President of the American Organization for Nursing Leadership pointed out that nurses and not legislators are in a better position to make decisions on appropriate nurse staffing. She went on to say “Ratios are a static and ineffective tool that cannot guarantee a safe health care environment. Care is team based and a lack of flexibility to provide staffing based on the acuity of individual patient needs jeopardizes safe patient care.”
Milo-Slagle began by describing how HealthStream can help healthcare organizations to leverage a continuous feed of real-time data to deliver high quality care. HealthStream’s Acuity and Assignment Manager (AAM)uses data from ShiftWizard™ along with clinical data from a facility’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Admissions, Data and Transfers (ADT) to create equitable and safe staffing assignments based on skill sets, credentials and regulatory requirements. Because it relies on real time data, it is flexible enough to help facilities change course as acuity and staffing levels change over time. “This tool can help you change the course of your staffing decisions during the day as well as looking at retrospective data that can guide decisions based on organizational history,” said Milo-Slagle.
While the actual task of assimilating all of the data required to align staffing with patient demand and acuity is rather daunting given the amount of data involved, HealthStream’s AAM is easy to use. This solution eliminates cumbersome manual calculations relying instead on digitized patient assessments and up-to-date staffing information.
Epler demonstrated the features of AAM including the dashboard that a charge nurse will be able to see when making assignments. The dashboard includes information from ADT, and the EMR as well as the nurses and other caregivers that are working in that department on that shift – information that comes from ShiftWizard. The charge nurse can easily make patient assignments using this data. Once an assignment has been made, that nurse will have a score associated with their assignment based on an Acuity Aggregator™ that uses objective acuity data from ADT and charting results. Charge nurses can also use this same solution to assign tasks to nurses and other caregivers on the team.
AAM also includes great reporting features that provide printable assignment sheets, hourly census reports, workload summary reports, patient acuity assessment reports, task reports, and security and audit reports for administrators. The reporting can also be used to meet the unique documentation requirements of accrediting organizations, regulatory bodies and unions. Along with these fairly high-level reports, users are also able to see more granular information such as the date and time of a particular assessment.
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