Helping to Improve Quality of Care by Making the Connections Between Evidence and Practice

Patricia Dorgan

If you have ever spent any time in a hospital with a loved one, you’ve likely had the opportunity to see first hand how the professionals who provide care can impact the overall patient experience. Amazing things happen in hospitals. The dedication and talent of professionals can be extraordinary, but sometimes circumstances get in the way that compromise the quality of care. For example shift changes, overworked and tired nurses, and inefficient processes can lead to mistakes and bad decisions.

There is a growing body of research around the impact of staffing on patient outcomes. From mortality, to length of stay, to hospital-acquired infections, the decisions made about how to staff and who to staff impacts the patient experience. However, research doesn’t always change the way staffing is done. For example, research shows that nurses who work more than 40 hours in a week are 3.71 times more likely to make a medication error1. Yet, only about ½ of healthcare executives surveyed say that they are using automation to monitor and manage overtime2.

Research does show that healthcare executives are making the connection between workforce management strategies and quality of care. In a recent Becker’s survey, respondents identified three workforce management strategies they felt could improve the quality of care and reduce medical errors:

  • Acuity-based staffing – 70% feel it impacts clinical outcomes and 37% feel it reduces medical errors.
  • Staffing skill and competency mix – 69% feel it impacts clinical outcomes, 68% feel it reduces medical errors.
  • Learning, development and competencies management – 43% feel it impacts clinical outcomes, 56% feel it reduces medical errors3.

However, the same survey showed that only 40% of respondents are using technology to enable acuity-based staffing. The numbers for the other two strategies are even less. Only 36% use technology for learning, development and competencies management, and 33% use technology for staffing skill and competency mix4.

We have the data, and we have the technology. The fiscal incentive to help improve the quality of care is also there. The time is perfect for healthcare executives to look at how workforce management technology can deliver the right analytics to make the connections to put the evidence into practice. By bridging the gaps between research, strategy and practice, day-to-day staffing decisions can have a more positive impact on the patient experience and improve the overall quality of care.

Want to take a closer look at the data? Check out the new white paper, “Lessening the Negative Impact of Human Factors: Linking Staffing Variables & Patient Outcomes.”

1 Bae, Sung-Heui. “Presence of Mandatory Overtime Regulations and Nurse and Patient Outcomes.” Nursing Economics. March/April 2013; 31, no.2: 59-89.

2 Becker’s Healthcare survey “Aligning Organizational Goals with Workforce Management Initiatives” conducted May/June, 2015.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.


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