February 16, 2024

If you are like most providers, labor shortages have had a dramatic impact on your operating margin. Fewer workers have led to more overtime, worker burnout, and contract staffing – driving up labor costs by over 19%1 in the past few years. And the worker shortage is not going to end anytime soon.

The following tips are intended to help you to ensure cost effective care without breaking your budget.

  • Flex your staff with patient volumes. In general, patient census fluctuates throughout the day with admissions leading to higher volumes in the late morning and lower volumes later in the day as patients are discharged. Most providers can flex their staff to adjust for the peaks, but many do not flex around the valleys, resulting in higher FTEs than are necessary. Furthermore, a portion of the excess is staffed via overtime or contract employees—at a higher rate. Flexing staff patient volumes throughout the day can help to reduce costly downtime.
  • Align staff by acuity. Not only is it important to flex staff based on patient volumes, but also patient needs. Staffing for higher acuity care is more costly. Using higher acuity staff for lower acuity patients can be driving up your hourly rates—and overall cost. Aligning your staff with patient acuity will ensure you are meeting care requirements at the lowest possible cost.
  • Reduce contract staff. Research shows that contract nurses are 21.7% more costly than direct employees. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing labor shortage in healthcare, contract labor is not going away in the near term. Having a solution to effectively manage all of your staff will let you identify areas where permanent employees can be used, limiting more costly contract staff.
  • Use data to forecast workforce needs. The standard labor productivity tools enable you to analyze your staffing and patient data to identify trends. Leading labor productivity solutions like Trisus® Labor Productivity integrate with more comprehensive data, providing more accurate and current data enabling better staffing decisions in both the short and long-term.
  • Provide adequate support. Critical for an efficient and effective workforce is sufficient, repetitive, and timely training. When teamed with frequent and direct communication your staff will become even more proficient, reducing the time to complete ongoing tasks.

We realize these tips sound easy enough but can be quite difficult to achieve. Especially if you do not have a solution to track and manage labor productivity. If workforce management is an issue for you, contact us to determine if Trisus Labor Productivity will help you to improve your ability to manage, predict, and lower your labor costs.

1 According to USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll of 1,170 health care workers conducted Feb. 9-16, 2022, online by the Ipsos probability-based Knowledge Panel.