It's no secret that technological and digital developments have improved patient care and created a massive impact on healthcare professionals' manual processes over the last few decades. From enhancing medical devices to the introduction of electronic health records (EHR), technology has served the industry well. Today, software can streamline your operations by making your usual processes — including attendance, payroll, and HR — much simpler and faster for your nursing staff.
Improving patient care through technology in your long-term care (LTC) facility by reducing manual workflow empowers your staff to provide higher quality care to residents, leading to more satisfaction overall. This article discusses the challenges nurses and other team members face in caregiving, how technology can alleviate these burdens, and the future of automation in healthcare.
Challenges in the Healthcare Industry
While every industry faces obstacles, healthcare has unique challenges that can make it difficult for your LTC or assisted living facility to succeed. Here are some of the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry.
One of the most significant issues in healthcare is the shrinking talent pool of trained nurses who can care for a growing population of older patients and residents needing care. These shortages are often caused by high turnover rates and an aging workforce without an adequate number of new nurses staying in the field. With over 1 million nurses over the age of 50 in the workforce, about one-third of the nurses nationwide will be ready to retire within the next 10 to 15 years. Likewise, the national average turnover rate is between 8.8% and 37.0% depending on location.
Unfortunately, this also means fewer experienced nurses will be available to train new graduates, limiting the number of nurses who can enter nursing school and leading to fewer students. Ultimately, the quality of many nursing programs may decline and create a ripple effect that leaves hospitals and long-term care facilities without adequate staffing.
High Burnout and Low Engagement
Many nurses face high amounts of stress and burnout in their careers, which can also cause them to leave the profession. Burnout or exhaustion can make it difficult for nurses to pay attention and stay on task at work, leading to increased staffing shortages and medical errors.
Nurses who experience burnout from the physical, mental, and emotional exertion at their jobs are also more likely to call out sick or not show up to work, putting more strain on the other staff. One study found that 31.5% of all nurses who left the profession in 2018 claimed burnout as the primary reason.
This stress can significantly affect employee engagement, which can diminish the quality of patient care at your facility and cause nurses to lose the passion they once had for their job. When it comes to the psychological effects of burnout, it's critical for LTC facilities to build a workplace culture where nurses are empowered and rewarded for their efforts by reducing their workload and making their jobs easier.
Payroll is one of the most critical aspects of managing an LTC facility. Team members dedicate themselves to patients and residents alike and work hard to keep healthcare facilities running smoothly, so it's essential they get paid correctly and on time. However, this is not always the case.
In many facilities that still rely on paper-based documentation and manual payroll processes, staff are often underpaid for their time or don't receive the correct amount of overtime they worked for. Human error generally leads to most of these issues, including:
- Processing payments
- Storing or delivering paper checks
- Organizing paperwork
- Filing employee or employer tax forms
These outdated processes make it difficult for managers to ensure their staff is paid correctly and on time. Likewise, getting paid late or incorrectly can create frustration in staff trying to pay their bills and may cause them to feel undervalued or dissatisfied with their jobs.
Benefits of Using Technology in Healthcare
Improving patient care through technology has endless benefits. Automating your processes and reducing your manual workflow also allows you to get things done more efficiently and reduce the amount of time your staff spends on tedious daily tasks.
With automation, you can improve coordination, scheduling, and many other aspects of your facility so your team members can remain with your residents and patients as long as possible. Here are the top information technology benefits in healthcare that you can see in your LTC facility.
Increase Competitive Advantages Over Other Facilities
When your facility has automation to free up time for productivity, it can continue to thrive and attract more residents. As more patients and their loved ones get first-hand experience of your efficiency and care, your facility will develop a more trustworthy reputation. Your reputation and resident and staff experience are some of the most critical aspects of gaining a competitive advantage over other LTC facilities.
Relying on technology and software makes it easier to focus on critical tasks and prioritize the people in your care rather than wasting time approving time off or making schedule changes. Competitive advantages also empower you to expand your level of care and hire even more trained staff, ensuring you never have staffing shortages or scheduling gaps when you need more help during a shift.
Improve Employee Experience
Technology such as workforce management software gives your staff more control over their careers by allowing them to adjust their own schedules and see their paystubs right from their phones. This type of software empowers your team to:
- Request open shifts
- Get notifications about schedule changes and time-off requests
- Communicate last-minute changes with the team
- Gain early access to their pay after each shift
With this type of access, your staff will have increased flexibility and feel confident about their working hours when they can instantly communicate any discrepancies from their phone. Utilizing software with same-day pay integration can also help reduce turnover rates by alleviating some financial stress on your team and making it easier for them to budget and pay their bills on time.
While technology will certainly give your staff peace of mind, it will also make administrative tasks easier for you and your management team. Using payroll and scheduling software allows you to focus on other priorities while the system uses staff data, time, and attendance to calculate taxes and pay your team members on time. You can also add deductions, special hours, or run multiple checks on the same cycle, giving you the flexibility you need to focus on your staff as they focus on your residents.
Increase Retention Rates
Nurses frustrated by scheduling issues and staffing inefficiencies can leave your facility without enough staff to care for your residents. Many continue to leave the workforce for these reasons. One study found that 17% of new nurses changed jobs within one year, and 33% left within two years. This can create issues for residents who form bonds with their nurses and feel the emotional impact when they leave. Additionally, it is costly to bring in new nurses regularly and put them through onboarding and training, only for them to leave after a year or two.
However, research shows that there are a few key components to keeping your nursing staff satisfied and improving your nursing retention rates, including:
- Time management
- Responses to challenges, stress, or pressure
- Teamwork and collaboration
With technology, you can improve each of these areas and ensure your staff will benefit from instant communication and reduced hassles with scheduling and pay.
Real-time information exchange is critical in any healthcare setting. Technology, including workforce management software, allows your staff to communicate instantly with your management team about payroll, scheduling, attendance, benefits, and overtime with a few clicks on their phones or other devices.
Your staff can also receive timely notifications and alerts about time off approvals, schedule changes, and same-day pay, so they don't need to waste time trying to find you during their shift to ask about their vacation time. If you are a CEO, manager, or schedule maker, you can also benefit from software that allows you to monitor and control time off, track absences, and instantly correct time cards.
Increase Patient Care and Satisfaction
Improving patient care and experiences is a top priority for every LTC and assisted living facility. Technology empowers your nurses to offer better services and more attentiveness to residents. Instead of dashing around your facility to find management when they have a question about the schedule, payroll, or benefits, they can engage with the rest of your team directly from their device without having to leave their stations — or residents — to find the answers to their questions.
Additionally, nurses will undoubtedly appreciate how much easier their jobs are with improved technology. They will likely be more engaged with patients and less likely to make mistakes that affect patient care and satisfaction. Technology and automation can also free up time for you and your staff to meet and discuss ways to enhance performance and improve the patient living experience.
Reduce Administrative Errors
Human error is one of the most significant preventable issues in the healthcare industry. For nurses, errors are more likely to occur when they work long hours and suffer from fatigue and distractions that affect their performance. In LTC facilities, these mistakes can make it challenging to stay on task and attend to residents and cause staff to spend too much time on administrative processes.
Using manual processes for scheduling, payroll, and HR issues can lead to incorrect pay, hours, or unapproved PTO, causing costly mistakes. An automated system can streamline these processes and let your staff know you value their time enough to reduce the burden of tedious tasks. Once your staff can focus more time on their performance and the use of their skills, you may see a dramatic reduction in errors in your facility.
Future Trends in Long-Term Care
Future technology in long-term care shows that the industry has only scratched the surface of potential regarding software and automation to enhance patient care and employee satisfaction. The future of healthcare is taking shape with advancements and developments that allow staff to control technology and provide residents with the best care possible.
These technology trends can give insight into how the future of LTC and assisted living organizations may look and what type of technology may be there to help your staff in the future.
End-to-end agency management is likely one of the many tasks you manage in your facility. As you take advantage of automation technology in other areas of your organization, consider using a staffing marketplace to make your future operations even easier. SmartLinx Staffing Marketplace can provide you with all the tools you need to gain visibility into your staffing ecosystem, avoid compliance penalties, and maintain your standards of care.
If you're a manager of an LTC facility, it's your job to take control of your agency spend and fill empty shifts to keep your operations running productively. With automation that allows you easily request and fill shifts from some of the biggest staffing agencies on the market, you can reduce labor-intensive tasks and make better business decisions.
This solution allows you to identify staffing issues and quickly resolve them right from a user-friendly platform rather than clicking through various systems to find what you need. Streamlining your staffing flow is critical for reducing scheduling gaps that lead to employee frustration and retention. Likewise, maintaining adequate staff members with every shift will help ensure your patients and residents receive the best support and care possible.
If you're looking for a technology trend that makes managing your staffing processes easier, SmartLinx Staffing Marketplace can eliminate common issues with your current system. From this platform, you can reduce fines and lost revenue due to inaccurate invoices, gaps in care, and double-booking shifts — along with many other valuable features that integrate with your other operations.
Workforce Management Software From SmartLinx Can Help You Improve Quality of Care and Patient Experience
Investing in your staff is key to maintaining satisfaction at your LTC or assisted living facility. With better technology, you and your team will be better equipped to improve patient care and attract more residents. SmartLinx technology will provide your facility with solutions to solve the challenges your caregivers face and improve your processes by helping you reduce turnover costs and giving you a competitive advantage.
Our workforce management software includes our schedule optimizer,time and attendance tracking, and payroll-based journal (PBJ) reporting and compliance. These features help healthcare facilities analyze and predict employee management and performance and create custom schedules tailored to staff abilities. To learn more about our products and solutions, schedule a demo today or contact us with any questions.