Staffing Continues to Be the Most Critical Pain Point
Most home-based care organizations are struggling with personnel shortages and labor costs.
A 2022 outlook survey points to the difficulties of staffing challenges.
In home health care, staffing continues to be the most critical pain point.
- With 80% of respondents citing staffing as their greatest non-COVID related challenge, recruiting (57%), and retention (32%) are their primary concerns.
The pain points are a challenge also for hospice and palliative care providers.
- 68% of participants reported that staffing is their greatest non-COVID challenge in 2022.
More than ever, organizations are looking for solutions to help provide better care to more patients, while making the most of their staff’s time. This effort starts with the scheduling process.
Common Scheduling Challenges for Home-Based Care Organizations
With the rapid growth of home health and hospice services, organizations are struggling to orchestrate complex care under strict compliance and performance requirements. Schedulers juggling patient and provider availability may feel at a loss trying to assess whether the schedules they arrange are optimized for care continuity and staff utilization. As a result, agencies often run into scheduling issues that affect patient and clinician satisfaction, as well as the organization’s bottom line.
Four Questions Leadership Should Explore to Optimize Scheduling with Continuity of Care and Staff Utilization
1. Is Your Organization Optimizing Staff Utilization?
Personnel costs are the highest expense in home health care, so it’s important to use staff time and skills as efficiently as possible. Staff members appreciate being able to practice at the top of their license, lending their training and skills to the patients who need them the most. Sending a worker with a higher than necessary skill-set also costs your organization money. Your “non-optimized visits” illustrate how much you could be losing by sending higher-licensed workers on visits. For example, are your schedulers sending out an RN for visits that an LPN could handle at a lower cost? That directly affects your bottom line and your agency’s long-term financial health.
Questions about your staffing levels:
Does your EHR/EMR offer analytics that track the information required to evaluate your staffing utilization? Do you know the answers to the following questions
- What is your ratio of salaried, hourly, and per-visit/contract staff?
- What is your ratio of higher licensed workers (RN, PT, OT, etc.) vs lower licenses (LPN, PTA, COTA, etc.)?
- Do you currently optimize your caregivers in terms of license level (ie: use LPN over RN when applicable)?
- How often are you using RNs or PTs for visits that can be performed by LPNs or PTAs?
When onboarding or evaluating any technology solution it is important to identify your performance benchmarks, so you can set appropriate goals for improvement. Check with your EHR to see what staff utilization metrics can be provided. For example, HCHB Analytics offers caregiver optimization dashboards that organizations can use to track their current staff utilization.
2. Is Your Organization Providing Consistent Continuity of Care?
Patients and caregivers alike prefer to establish long-term relationships that engender trust. Continuity of care increases both patient and caregiver satisfaction, which is a win/win for your organization.
Are you sending four different RNs to see a patient, or is the patient getting the opportunity to build closer relationships by seeing the same RN during each visit?
Analyses of data1 from a large population of home health patients suggest that greater consistency in nursing personnel decreases the probability of hospitalization and emergent care and increases the likelihood of improved functioning in activities of daily living between admission and discharge from home health care.
1 Continuity in Home Health Care: Is Consistency in Nursing Personnel Associated With Better Patient Outcomes. Healthcare Quality 2011 Nov;33(6):33-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1945-1474.2011.00131.x.
3. Is Your Organization Making Fact-Based Decisions with Current Data and Dashboards?
The home health industry is changing so quickly that leadership can no longer rely solely on their instincts and experience to craft strategy and make important decisions. You need solutions that illuminate the whole business landscape, allowing you to make decisions based on up-to-date numbers and performance data.
Get business intelligence from your EHR to help you make informed, data-driven decisions to improve patient outcomes, increase organizational efficiencies, and monitor the critical key performance indicators (KPIs) that define your success.
Use this checklist to review some of the metrics that help you assess your scheduling processes, care continuity and staff utilization.
Checklist of Metrics to Objectively Address Problem Areas and Savings
- LPN/PTA utilization
- Number of staff members seen per patient
- Broken down by discipline and/or position
- Staff productivity
4. How Can Your Organization Benefit from Maximizing Continuity of Care and Staff Utilization?
Scheduling that maximizes continuity of care and staff utilization provides benefits for the patient, staff and home-based care organization. Patients are able to build stronger relationships which establishes trust, drives higher satisfaction and improves the likelihood of higher outcomes. Staff satisfaction is also increased because they are able to build closer relationships with patients that they see multiple times. The organization’s bottom line improves when the most appropriate level of care is sent for every visit and operational expenses are reduced.
The benefits of scheduling optimization are clear but maximizing continuity of care and staff utilization can be a logistical challenge for schedulers. An automated scheduling solution can be a key resource for agencies seeking to improve scheduling processes by lightening its schedulers’ workload.
Use this checklist when looking for an automated scheduling solution.
- Automatically schedules visits taking into account:
- Continuity of care
- Send the same staff members to complete a patient’s visits when possible
- Optimized staff utilization
- Maximize use of full time-salaried staff
- Send lowest-cost, clinically appropriate staff
- Optimized mileage and routing
- Saves time
- Lowers operating expenses
- Provides Analytical insight for benchmarking and goal setting
- Access to dashboards that allow your team to evaluate:
- Operational costs like mileage and drive time
- Continuity of care
- Staff utilization
- Time saved in back office
- Performance and adoption metrics including overrides, preventions and suggested mileage.
Your organization can quickly assign the exact level of required care to help organizations cut costs, improve continuity of care and better utilize full-time employees without adding costly overtime with an automated scheduling solution like HCHB Smart Scheduling.