Addressing staffing shortages with technology solutions

Addressing staffing shortages with technology solutions

By Medline Newsroom Staff | January 22, 2024

Caregiver Readiness

Addressing staffing shortages with technology solutions

Touchstone Communities and Tutera Senior Living are leveraging technology to identify staff shortages, access temporary employees and reduce unfilled shifts

Like the entire continuum of healthcare, long-term care and skilled nursing providers continue to endure a crippling shortage of staff, with reports estimating a loss of more than 200,000 employees between February 2020 and December 2022. The sector has not seen shortages like this since 1994. Adding to that, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently proposed a federal staffing mandate that would require long-term care providers to hire another 100,000 new workers.

As a result, providers are often looking to independent workers to fill shifts. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 25% of long-term-care and skilled nursing home staff are temporary employees.

Connecting long-term care providers with independent professionals

“Independent workers are not meant to replace full-time staff; rather, they can be a relief valve for healthcare facilities if and when they need them,” said Brandon Tappan, chief revenue officer for ShiftKey, a technology company and Medline partner that connects long-term care providers with verified, independently licensed healthcare professionals. “The benefit to the worker is that they get to pick and choose where and when they work and are also able to set their own pay rate. Many healthcare workers wouldn’t be able to work in this field without that kind of flexibility.”

“There is a need for innovation to help organizations secure the support they need to optimally care for the aging population.”

Joe Schiller

Vice President of Human Resources
Tutera Senior Living

As a technology solutions provider partner to Medline, ShiftKey has helped registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nursing aides, physical therapists, respiratory therapists and other related healthcare professionals pick up shifts when and where they want. At the same time, healthcare providers have access to a vetted marketplace of licensed independent healthcare professionals to fill open shifts.

Providing a holistic view of the schedule and staffing needs

In 2022, ShiftKey integrated with OnShift, a leading end-to-end workforce engagement platform. The integration, called SAMI — schedule automation marketplace integration — now provides long-term care providers with a holistic view of the day-to-day schedule, including facility employees and external workers, and provides tools to proactively and cost-effectively ensure adequate staff and predict future staffing needs.

In research conducted by OnShift, SAMI has helped reduce the number of long-term care unfilled shifts by 83%, increase employee shift requests by 20%, and save 500 hours of administrative time. The efficiencies resulted in an annual cost savings of approximately $1.7 million.

Team members from Touchstone’s Las Alturas Nursing & Transitional Care in Laredo, Texas

Touchstone Communities and Tutera Senior Living are two long-term care providers that have found success in leveraging technology to increase the visibility of their staffing needs and transparent scheduling to decrease workforce costs.

“Long-term care is not always the first choice for healthcare staff,” said Joe Schiller, vice president of human resources for Tutera Senior Living. As a result, “the competition has become tremendous and the workforce scarce. Innovation is needed to help organizations secure the support they need to optimally care for the aging population.”

Consolidating staffing resources

When Schiller first took over human resources for the 55-facility system located throughout 10 Southwestern and Midwestern states, the company was working with 35 different staffing agencies.

“We were running over budget and needed to be able to see things in a centralized way in real-time,” said Schiller. “We needed to help our communities make better decisions.”

Soon after, Tutera partnered with OnShift and ShiftKey to utilize SAMI. The platform identifies staffing shortages, accesses on-demand licensed professionals in the marketplace, maintains subcontractor credentials, and keeps “very accurate payroll records.” There’s also follow-up on whether the standard of care was met. SAMI has helped Tutera meet a 90% reduction in unfilled shifts and a 7% increase in their resident occupancy rate.

“Access to real-time insights needed to make strategic workforce decisions has been impactful for us not only right now, but in helping our organization plan for the future.”

Nicole Kummala

Vice President of Operational Support
Touchstone

SAMI is also helping Touchstone Communities, a 27-facility long-term care and skilled nursing provider in Texas, to optimally manage workforce levels and care. Touchstone has more than 3,000 employees. Like many facilities, they experienced staffing challenges during COVID-19.

“The sudden onset of COVID necessitated a rapid response. Given the novel aspect of the situation, we launched a shotgun approach and signed multiple contracts with multiple staffing agencies,” said Nicole Kummala, vice president of operational support, at Touchstone. “We had a daily list of shift openings that we texted, emailed, and called to multiple staffing agencies and then manually entered each agency staffer pickup into our OnShift staffing platform. While this was a short-term fix, it soon became clear it was not the long-term solution.”

Reducing unfulfilled shifts, staffing agency dependence

With the automatic integration, OnShift pushes Touchstone’s daily shift openings into ShiftKey and then matches Touchstone’s needs with available qualified professionals. This data flows automatically back into OnShift ensuring there are appropriate staffing ratios at the bedside of Touchstone’s patients, residents and Veterans. Greater visibility into team member availability has led to an 89% reduction in unfilled shifts and has helped Touchstone reduce its dependence on additional staffing agencies.

“Access to real-time insights needed to make strategic workforce decisions has been impactful for us not only right now, but in helping our organization plan for the future,” said Kummala.

Tappan added: “We’re looking forward to developing new and innovative tech products and are evaluating how we can utilize data to better predict the needs of these facilities to assist them in budget adherence and achieving their occupancy goals.”

Learn more about how SAMI is helping long-term care customers increase workforce visibility.

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Categories: Caregiver Readiness, Healthcare Segment News, Home hero 1, Patient Experience

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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