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Needs-based staffi ng: Over-staffi ng is ineffi cient and costly for hospital units. Under-staffi ng can create patient safety, quality-of-care and morale problems. Especially problematic is when some units have a sur- plus of nurses who have the skills, credentials and cross- training to work in other units struggling along with too few nurses.

Michael Meisel is vice president of product management and marketing for Concerro, San Diego. For more information on Concerro solutions: www.rsleads.com/004ht-208

Needs-based staffi ng ac- counts for patient acuity and ensures every unit has

the appropriate number of nurses – with the skill sets needed – to provide good care given the complexity of patients’ conditions and the intensity of services patients are likely to require during the next shift. Avoiding over- staffi ng improves the hospital’s bottom line. Avoiding under-staffing protects patient safety and enhances nurses’ job satisfaction. Patient assignment balancing: When two nurses on the same shift each have three patients, all too often one nurse seemingly is assigned the unit’s three patients with the most-intense care needs, while the other cares for

three less-demanding patients. Staffi ng and scheduling functionality that balances assignments based on docu- mented patient acuity solve the problem. This allows nurse managers to focus on managing their units rather than having to help overburdened nurses. In 2008, as the economy sank, hospital finances

tanked. According to the Center for Healthcare Improve- ment, a research division of Thomson Reuters, the me- dian margin for U.S. hospitals was down to 0.37 percent in the third quarter of 2008. Hospitals reduced expenses, cut back on staffi ng to get back in the black and turned their fi nances around. The median margin was back up to 8.4 percent in the second quarter of 2009. Thus, most hospitals have maxed out reductions in force. Demand for hospital care is increasing as the economy slowly recovers, and as more people reach the point where they can no longer delay getting the care they need. All the more important in today’s environment is for fi nance and nursing to agree on features and functions for staffi ng and scheduling that safeguard quality of care by optimizing appropriate and effective staffi ng, improve the quality of life for nurses and protect the hospital’s bottom line.

HMT

D

o you know a Healthcare IT Pioneer, someone who has blazed

trails in creating, developing or implementing new technologies for healthcare providers?

To celebrate our 30th anniversary, Health Management Technology will be honoring a select number of Pioneers in the September 2010 issue.

To nominate a Healthcare IT Pioneer, please go to HealthMgtTech.com and click on the PIONEERS link.

Semifi nalists will be chosen by our Editorial Selection Committee and displayed on the HMT Web site for fi nal selection by HMT readers and our Web site visitors. The Pioneer fi nalists will then be honored in the September 2010 issue and on the Health

Management Technology Web site.

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