Acuity-based Staffing Supports Patient Satisfaction

Patricia Dorgan

The workforce is the essential link between a healthcare organization’s clinical and financial goals. Workforce management strategies were once the focus of reducing labor costs. Today, the shift to a value-based purchasing model is driving a change in traditional thinking, leading more organizations to look at the broader picture, and the quality and financial implications tied to patient satisfaction metrics. As more patients gain access to health insurance, there are more choices available to them regarding where to seek treatment. Hospitals that deliver the ideal combination of overall experience, quality and cost are ideally situated to attract these patients.

The correlation between employee satisfaction and patient satisfaction is not a myth. Forward-thinking organizations must focus on workforce solutions that drive employee satisfaction and patient engagement. A 2015 HealthLeaders survey asked 126 healthcare executives about outcomes desired from a workforce productivity initiative. They found that financial, clinical and employee-related outcomes were almost equally important1. While productivity initiatives are critical to improving cost-effectiveness, the use of analytics to support acuity-based staffing is important for delivering cross-functional results.

Healthcare organizations are finding ways to leverage data in an effort to improve outcomes. Analytics can help organizations gain a deeper understanding of patient needs, and how to match the right staff with the right patients. It’s important to remember that not all nurses have the same experience and skill set. Likewise, every patient is different and needs a customized care delivery plan. Data-driven staffing and the use of technology to support acuity based staffing has the potential to reduce labor costs, improve employee engagement, provide equitable staffing, and improve an organization’s ability to deliver high quality patient care. All of which ultimately leads to improved patient satisfaction.

Streamlined processes and more equitable staffing assignments help create more engaged employees, and are significant staff satisfiers. Acuity-based staffing, and ensuring the right mix and match of caregiver skills and competencies results in improved quality, and generates high performance while creating engaged and empowered employees—the core to labor cost reduction and quality of care improvements.


1“Targeting Better Outcomes & Patient Satisfaction Through Workforce Management Initiatives.” HealthLeaders and API Healthcare, 2015.

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