So Stormont-Vail reviewed wages for the on-call scheduling and allowed managers to make more cost-effective decisions to meet the patient demand.
Becker says Stormont-Vail stopped using packaged scheduling software about 10 years ago in favor of its departments having non-fixed shifts (mainly inpatient nursing) and using a “homegrown” spreadsheet that is updated daily or shift by shift to accommodate patient volumes and acuity.
Without this approach, Becker says “the hospital would’ve continued to pay a premium rate for services and would not be able to address staffing shortfalls through the system when demand rose.”
Prior to this, Stormont-Vail was using an approach that many hospitals and health systems still use today. Becker says the system managed employee time retroactively.
“Looking back at the employee data doesn’t help us look and work with the daily patient census,” he notes. “When you look at the end of a two-week pay period and see all the hours of call pay, at that point you can’t analyze why it happened or how to fix it for the future. That can drive the cost per patient per hour in a particular unit through the roof.”
With the potential to save on labor costs, Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, MO, decided to take a look at its payroll for possible leaks. Tammy Leslie, senior director of compensation and benefits, and Casey Knasel, director of payroll and human resource information systems at the 11-hospital system, explain that getting a handle on how their system’s hospitals were approaching time entry and employee staffing levels became a cost-saving priority when the economy shifted.