They asked their time management provider, Kronos, to do an optimization analysis. As with Stormont-Vail, Saint Luke’s system analysis revealed a fundamental, and costly, scheduling issue. Managers scheduling the on-call or standby staff weren’t able to discern when demand was rising, nor could they determine which employees had the lowest hourly wage to call those individuals in to work.
“Healthcare isn’t seasonal; you can’t predict when there will be a high or a low [patient volume]. At one of our hospitals, the census might be low today, while at another it’s high. The costs go up in one place but not in another, and from a strategy standpoint we have to think about to what degree we can manage that costs,” explains Knasel.
Knasel says the problem was the hospital failed to provide real-time patient census information and tie it to staff wage information. “So how can a manager decide who to bring in? With the new software program we added, now if you have nurse A or nurse B and all other things are equal with their skill set, the managers can opt for the nurse that is most economical,” he says.
In addition to the scheduling issues, the Kronos analysis of Saint Luke’s uncovered a smaller issue, but one that could be corrected quickly. By relocating time clocks so they are closer to the employee’s actual workstation, the hospital could shave off several minutes per day of nonproductive time. They found the clocks closest to the points of entry were getting the most traffic because employees were clocking in and then taking their time to arrive at their workstation.
Employees could take another five to 10 minutes or more to change clothes or do other non-work-related activities, all costing the hospital unnecessarily. The few extra minutes in some instances even bumped an employee’s time from regular pay to overtime pay.