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Optimized health care operations paramount to reducing the workforce shortage and improving patient care


To thrive in 2023 and beyond, organizations need to devise ways to continue delivering exceptional care without placing more stress on their workforce.

With decreased margins in health care spending and the current workforce still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, health care organizations are struggling to maintain adequate staffing, which is critical to the delivery of quality patient care.

Karlene Kerfoot: ©symplr

Karlene Kerfoot: ©symplr

To thrive in 2023 and beyond, organizations need to devise ways to continue delivering exceptional care without placing more stress on their workforce.

We know that with a shrinking workforce, patients are more likely to experience adverse outcomes such as infections and falls, which is why we need to be investing in solutions to mitigate the workforce shortage. Nurses themselves have indicated that, due to staff shortages, have witnessed higher rates of additional care following discharge and an increase in medication errors or delays. As an industry, we need to be connecting the dots and addressing the correlation between workforce shortages, staff burnout and inadequate and unsafe patient care.

To combat this continued strain on our workforce, organizations must continue to recognize the importance of collaboration between technology and health care systems, as well as the value of industry partnerships with software solutions providers. Not only can software solutions provide relief from administrative burnout, but they also provide analytics to uncover patterns in patient care that correlate to staffing to meet the goal of improving care delivery.

There is incredible untapped potential in health care operations software to accelerate automation and innovation to help our caregivers get off the computer and back where they want to be: with patients, providing quality health care. With health care operations solutions, workforces can better understand gaps in staffing and support teams to identify patterns in care to improve patient outcomes.

Many organizations cite the use of disconnected or disparate software solutions and systems as a hinderance that creates the technology burden that compromises the performance of their workforce. By implementing an enterprise-wide operations solution, we can provide a collaborative and efficient approach to patient care while retaining staff and controlling costs. Partnering with vendors that provide enterprise operations solutions can increase the return on technology investment and ensure that our workforce utilizes and benefits from operational software rather than being burdened by it.

Recently, a number of executives across the nation’s top health systems and hospitals, as well as other leaders from high profile industry institutions, pledged to advance health care operations to improve patient care. The “Pledge to Advance Healthcare Operations” calls on everyone in health care to align around five tenets to increase efficiency, improve margins, and lessen the administrative and operational burden on all health care workers.

1. Empower decisions. Unify and standardize health care operations tools, reporting, and analytics for decision-making — ensuring we are getting close to real-time valuable data-based insights.

2. Prioritize user experience. Champion user-oriented technology that supports and strengthens an exhausted health care workforce.

3. Advocate for better data. Unite around one dynamic and reliable source of truth for provider data as well as other related health care operational data.

4. Expand access, build loyalty. Exceed the expectations of today’s transient health care consumer with patient access and loyalty ecosystems that rival those found in other industries.

5. Facilitate the advancement of care. Embrace proven innovation and automation to streamline care and operational efficiency, raising expectations for how our industry delivers care.

For those who are not already leveraging enterprise health care operations solutions, they can be a valuable tool to connect and consolidate multiple disparate systems. Health care operations solutions that increase efficiencies and allow staff to focus their efforts on patient care are a welcome solution to an overstressed workforce. To deliver exceptional care, we need a workforce that is empowered by the technological solutions available to them, as opposed to being hindered or burdened by them. Aligning ourselves as an industry and committing to a higher standard of operational excellence will enable our front-line staff to spend more time delivering outstanding patient care.

About Karlene Kerfoot

As CNO at symplr, Karlene is responsible for integrating the science of patient care, staffing, and clinical informatics into symplr solutions. Prior to joining symplr in 2011, she was the Corporate Chief Nursing and Patient Care Officer at three of the largest US health care systems. Previously she held positions in clinical practice, health care consulting, project management and academic appointments in business administration and nursing.

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