Hospitals traditionally assign staffing based on patient needs, with the charge nurse on each shift determining how many patients each nurse will care for and where unlicensed and assistive personnel will be deployed. Acuity software, however, makes the determination much more accurate and, crucially, it can change in real time, giving hospitals greater flexibility.
The system "validates the hours of care that are needed for any unique patient, be it a med-surg patient with a stroke or a patient on dialysis," Loftin says. "From those hours of care, we break it down into the disciplines of care that are needed."
For executives, the benefit is a real-time, high level of analysis for daily needs. Loftin says he looks at total hours per patients that day and knows what he'll need on any given unit for any given day.
"I then give that total number of hours to my frontline directors or managers," he says. "They, along with the unit leaders of their shifts, subdivide those total hours into their licensed, unlicensed, and non-direct care, and can evolve them and use them to best fit the workload of their unit."
The in-depth analysis of staffing patterns has allowed Parrish Medical Center to drill into outcomes.
"Because the indicators are patient-focused and evidence-based, it gives me a debate to use when we're looking at financial implications as well as outcome implications," says Loftin.