Reduced Mortality Linked to Adequate Nurse Staffing

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A March 17 American Nurses Association report published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates role flexible nurse staffing plays in boosting patient safety and saving lives. Healthcare providers can achieve what the report calls for through effective workforce management.

One health system recently filled 10 nursing positions within days of posting to Candidate Direct. By filling positions quickly, clients reduce risk associated with poor patient safety & can reverse the impact of low nurse-patient ratios almost instantly

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Bridging gaps in patient care can save lives, experts say. Healthcare employers are deploying web-based workforce management solutions such as vendor management to fill open positions. Vendor Management doubled in 2008-2010 and demand for the technology is expected to continue.

A nurse staffing report published in the New England Journal of Medicine March 17 demonstrates the importance flexible nurse staffing has on positive patient outcomes.

The three-year study, entitled "Nurse Staffing and Inpatient Hospital Mortality" tracked nurse staffing levels across 43 hospital units at a tertiary Magnet facility. Findings showed that when nurses were accurately matched with patient needs shift-by-shift, risk of mortality decreased.

"This study demonstrates that hospitals must implement staffing systems that are flexible enough to meet the individual needs of each patient for every shift, every unit and every day, said ANA President Karen A. Daley, PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN. "It shows that nurse staffing should not be viewed as a cost to be minimized, but as a critical factor in producing quality patient outcomes - ultimately saving lives."

Healthcare providers can achieve what the ANA report calls for through effective workforce management, said Sue Higgins of Candidate Direct, a firm specializing in performance-based healthcare technology staffing solutions. Candidate Direct offers a full array of web-based software, providing organizations with basic applications to streamline and automate mundane staffing tasks such as position posting, applicant and workforce tracking. Additionally, the company can deploy full service vendor management systems in less than one business day.

Because Candidate Direct relies on a single point of contact to recruit candidates and manage multiple vendor sources, healthcare staffing managers can easily flag shifts where more staff is needed and source candidates on short notice to fill positions. This helps bridge gaps in patient care, said the staffing expert, and alleviates burdens associated with staffing shortages.

"One health system recently filled 10 nursing positions within days of posting to Candidate Direct,” Higgins said. “By filling positions quickly, clients reduce risk associated with poor patient safety and can reverse the impact of low nurse-patient ratios almost immediately."

Higgins attributes the uptick of activity at her firm to a vendor management system that makes finding and recruiting medical professionals easy - even if they have to travel. Unlike similar staffing solutions, Candidate Direct isn’t overrun with under-qualified candidates and is ideal for sourcing hard-to-find specialists in geographic areas where local labor pools fall short.

Moreover, the Candidate Direct system empowers healthcare employers to identify vendors that continually fill medical jobs with highly-qualified candidates at a desired price point. The staffing solution’s optional bill rate feature allows healthcare staffing agencies to compete for positions, often driving the cost of staffing down. Whereas one agency may quote $65 for an experienced physical therapist another may quote $62. For one employer, this amounted to a savings of more than $6,000 on a single candidate over the course of a year.

Higgins said that when utilized across multiple hospital units, a fully configurable vendor management system such as the Candidate Direct workforce solution can save healthcare employers thousands in healthcare staffing costs each year. More importantly, the technology carries with it the potential to boost patient safety and keep mortality rates low.

The number of employers using vendor management almost doubled in 2008-2010. In 2011, usage is expected to climb another 27 percent.

"The number of healthcare employers relying on vendor management or similar workforce solutions to promote flexible nurse staffing and save money has doubled in recent years," Higgins said. Medical jobs postings are up 25% in the first quarter at Candidate Direct and are expected to surpass annual industry projections of 27%.

About Candidate Direct
The Candidate Direct staffing solution is utilized to source, recruit and procure permanent and contingent staff. We provide a full array of web-based software, providing large health systems and independent practitioners with basic applications to streamline and automate tasks such as position posting, applicant and workforce tracking. The Candidate Direct platform of services provides a single point of contact to monitor vendor compliance, candidate screening and credentialing information. Candidate Direct is web-based and requires no purchase of hardware or software.

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