Healthcare organizations today have to carefully balance clinical, operational and financial objectives to ensure they meet patient needs while providing a safe and productive work environment. Effectively managing the healthcare organization’s workforce is key to this comprehensive effort. Not only is labor a hospital’s largest expense, representing around 60% of costs, it is also its largest asset.1 When managed well, organizations can gain efficiencies, improve employee satisfaction, reduce risk and enable high-quality, compliant care.
Unfortunately, hospitals and health systems can struggle to obtain clear visibility into how their workforce functions. Data pertaining to labor is spread across multiple sources and housed in disparate systems that don’t always communicate well with each other. Siloed departments and manual process workarounds can also limit information sharing, causing organizations to miss systemic issues because they don’t have access to the full staffing picture.
This lack of visibility can translate into a more reactive approach to workforce management, which is neither cost effective or especially useful at mitigating risk. In some cases, inefficiencies and inconsistencies may persist because an organization is simply not aware of them. In other cases, the entity may focus on initiatives that deliver a degree of improvement without realizing that there are others that would yield a higher ROI.
Using data and analytics to provide clarity around performance
To help healthcare organizations better understand their workforce, UKG™ (Ultimate Kronos Group) has developed a comprehensive assessment program that leverages real-time data and sophisticated analytics to glean insights about a variety of human capital and workforce challenges that organizations face. Based on these insights, the UKG industry consultant and data scientist team offers actionable strategies that have the potential to yield meaningful financial and operational improvement. UKG is the recently formed company born out of the merger between Kronos Incorporated and Ultimate Software.
“Although other workforce assessments exist, they often use high-level data, which can be out of date and not granular enough to fully appreciate what’s going on in an organization or make improvement actionable,” said Nanne Finis, chief nursing executive for UKG. “Our assessment involves pulling data from the client’s system and looking at the workforce through a different lens. This gives organizations a unique view of staffing and labor, which they have not been able to easily access
How does the assessment work?
UKG partners with a healthcare organization to mine, extract and analyze one year’s worth of workforce data from the organization’s existing time and attendance or payroll solution. The UKG team will analyze the data and transform it into operational dashboards that provide clear insights into a company’s performance on several key business value drivers. The healthcare organization receives both summarized and detailed insights that compare the organization’s performance against various benchmarks and identify areas of opportunity to improve productivity while controlling labor costs. Although the data
analytics team primarily focuses on mining the data in UKG’s solutions, they can review information in other vendors’ software as well.
“Fundamentally, we look at how employees are utilized throughout the organization,” said Ralph Baker, senior manager of UKG’s data science practice group, which develops the technical portion of the assessment. “We compare different parts of an organization, viewing the data by department, function and location. As part of the analysis, we search for outliers in terms of inefficiencies, costs, productivity, compliance and so on. By comparing one area to another, we can see which ones are doing a good job of managing various workforce processes, such as the use of overtime. And if an area is not performing as well, we can help the organization get to the root cause of the problem. Is it a training issue? Is it vacancies? Are processes not supporting policy or vice versa? Could technology help?”
Viewing workforce data from a holistic perspective allows an organization to look beyond financial metrics. “Although improving efficiencies and reducing costs are definitely priorities, they are not the only measures on which an organization should be focused,” said Baker. “The strain of the past year has placed a tremendous burden on healthcare workers. So, it’s even more important now that we explore topics like employee fatigue, burnout, turnover and workplace satisfaction because these issues are becoming just as vital as the financial aspects. By digging into some key performance areas in the assessment, we can start to uncover some of these trends that weren’t visible or quantifiable before.”
Workforce assessment value areas