Use predictive analytics to manage nursing workforce

Nurse with a clipboard

As the healthcare industry’s nursing shortage continues, predictive analytics can help health facilities maximize the efficiency of the workforce they have, according to a new report.

A survey of nurse managers conducted by healthcare staffing firms Avantas and AMN Healthcare found that the vast majority struggled with staffing issues, and about 70 percent expressed concern about the impact that shortages can have on patient satisfaction. More than half said they feared such issues could negatively impact patient care. However, despite these concerns, a quarter still use paper scheduling tools, and about the same number use none, according to the report. About 80 percent of the surveyed nurses said they were not familiar with predictive analytic tools.

"Although most don't know it is available, predictive analytics can take the guesswork out of nurse scheduling and staffing through accurate forecasting of patient demand months in advance of the shift," Jackie Larson, president of Avantas, said in an announcement of the report. "This saves time and frustration for nurse managers and registered nurses, so they can give all their attention to patient care."

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The report found that last-minute schedule changes, nurses being asked to perform tasks outside of their typical purview and a lack of experienced or specialty staff were also common problems. Hospitals that adopted a data-driven style of workforce management increased staff satisfaction, better predicted staffing needs and cut labor costs.

Nurses are at high risk for burnout and stress on the job, FierceHealthcare has reported. This was reflected in the survey responses, too, as some of the other concerns the surveyed nurse leaders expressed were:

  • 87 percent said nurses feel that no one cares how hard they work
  • 85 percent said covering for staff that abuse schedules hurts morale
  • 82 percent said staff shortages increase the likelihood someone will call off work, further stretching the staff on duty

“When staffing is low, [nurses] don’t feel like anyone cares how hard they work, and I see how this impacts patient care,” one manager said, according to the report.

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