Montgomery General Hospital Optimizes Staff Scheduling and Productivity
Equipment, supplies, and labor constitute the largest expenditures for healthcare provider organizations. Whereas equipment and supplies tend to be “fixed” costs, labor is variable and can be as high as 50 percent of an organization’s budget. Yet, few healthcare organizations maximize their employees’ full potential and reap the benefits from these savings. As a result, the majority of healthcare organizations do not effectively control labor costs mainly due to the lack of organization in the management of scheduling and staffing.
Montgomery General Hospital is a 191-bed, community hospital with the unique distinction of being the first acute care hospital in the state of Maryland. As a major provider of healthcare services to four counties in Maryland, Montgomery General sees its’ mission as providing high quality, personalized healthcare services. In order to achieve this, the hospital relies on recruiting and retaining top talent to deliver quality patient care.
CareWare implementation in May 2005 was key to fostering this environment of improved care delivery at Montgomery General. CareWare significantly improved the organization and management of scheduling and staffing in all acute care nursing units, emergency department (including pediatrics), and an inpatient psychiatric unit.
Improving Staffing Management
The introduction of CareWare provided the hospital with the tools to create fair and equitable schedules that meet coverage needs, improve communications about staffing and workload fluctuations, and reduce the turnover caused by nurse burnout due to excessive use of overtime.
CareWare also helped improve overall employee retention and satisfaction by automatically incorporating staff preferences during scheduling. One year later, Montgomery General is reaping the rewards from their vision of streamlining staffing and scheduling.
Enhancing Financial Outcomes
Through high levels of CareWare adoption across the organization, Montgomery General has seen a reduction in agency staffing from 21 FTEs to 14.5 FTEs, resulting in savings of $400,000. “CareWare features such as online trading and bidding for shifts has allowed us to explore cost-effective staffing options to help meet our budgetary targets,” says Mariamma Ninan, RN, MSN, Director, Nursing Resources at Montgomery General.
Previously, nursing units did not have the tools or systems in place to effectively maintain unit budgets. CareWare’s budget tracking and workload management features support the hospital’s real-time information needs for smart decision-making.
Increasing Staff Satisfaction
After implementing CareWare, Montgomery General experienced increased staff satisfaction with their schedules, attributed to a higher degree
of transparency and accountability in the scheduling process. Managers preferred CareWare due to the improved reliability of the schedule data over their previous paper-based process. “CareWare created better quality schedules that met coverage needs and fewer people complained about their schedules,” adds Ninan.
Enhancing Better Processes
Montgomery General’s use of CareWare has also helped enhance the value of existing technology investments. In the past, Human Resources (HR)
information was tracked in two databases—nursing and HR. Today, an interface provides seamless data exchange and information critical to informed decision-making during staffing. In another instance, daily emails from CareWare to managers through their Groupwise email provides alerts to staffing variations that may compromise coverage.
Making Informed Decisions
CareWare has delivered value to Montgomery General’s day-to-day operations in staffing and workload management, especially the centralized
Nursing Resources office, in responding to daily variations in patient care needs. The seamless flow of information supports optimal use of CareWare functionality and an open communications framework to help the organization improve the work environment for employees.
By reducing our use of agency staffing from 21 to 14.5 FTEs, we saved $400,000 this year— thereby minimizing our reliance on external staffing and improving continuity of care.