News February 19, 2017

Three Ways Healthcare Staffing Boosts Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is an important priority for hospitals and health systems, as value-based reimbursements, evolving models of patient-centered care, and growing competition in the healthcare industry are driving increased attention to how patients experience their care.

Healthcare staffing is critical to patient satisfaction because the healthcare workforce is primarily responsible for the patient’s care experience. Research shows that many aspects of healthcare staffing are directly related to the level of patient satisfaction.

The top expertise and greatest capacity for healthcare staffing now exists in healthcare workforce solutions experts. Partnering with providers through Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and other workforce solutions, healthcare staffing experts today deliver:

  • Largest and most diverse network of professionals
  • Precision sourcing strategies
  • Clinical expertise
  • Capability to hire quality candidates quickly and efficiently and ensure a good cultural fit
  • Improved patient experience

Here are three ways healthcare staffing helps patient satisfaction:

  1. Close Staffing Gaps: Many studies show that nurse-to-patient ratios and gaps in nurse staffing and scheduling are related to patient satisfaction, suggesting that filling clinical staff vacancies quickly and with quality candidates is an important ingredient in patient satisfaction. Research also showed that patient-to-nurse workloads were significantly associated with ratings and recommendation of hospital by patients. Gaps in nurse staffing harm the patient experience because overtaxed nurses covering open shifts can fail to fulfill care duties. Strategies that more quickly fill gaps in nurse staffing can therefore help improve patient satisfaction levels.

    Solution: An RPO can significantly speed up the time it takes to fill clinical staffing gaps. AMN RPO partnerships have achieved reduced time-to-fill rates for open clinical positions that are 25% to 50% of the national average at hospitals and health systems across the country. Reducing gaps in staffing relieves pressure on nurses and other clinicians who must cover open shifts, which in turn can improve the overall clinical environment, and particularly the nursing environment. Patients in hospitals with better nurse work environments are more likely to recommend hospitals and give them a high rating.
  2. Ensure Clinician Quality: Patient satisfaction has been linked to improved skills by nurses, most particularly to higher proportions of registered nurses in a provider’s workforce. The link between patient satisfaction and increased nursing skills reflects the recommendation contained in the landmark 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Report, The Future of Nursing. This landmark study recommended an increase in the proportion of nurses with bachelors of science in nursing (BSN) degrees because nurses work on the front line of patient care in an increasingly complex healthcare environment and with a growing number of patients with multiple chronic conditions. Studies have found that hospitals with higher percentage of nurses with BSNs have better patient outcomes and experience.

    Solution: An AMN RPO partnership can provide hospitals and other healthcare providers with more BSN-prepared nurses for several reasons. The database of AMN Healthcare includes more than 1 million practitioners, the largest in the nation, so it includes more BSN-prepared nurses (Two-thirds of AMN travel nurses have a BSN or higher degree). This database is maintained and constantly enhanced by the most advanced, technology-enhanced sourcing processes, which few healthcare providers can replicate. AMN RPO partnerships have provided large health systems with 70%-75% BSN-prepared nurses with an average of approximately 8 years of experience.
  3. Raise HCAHPS Scores: The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, the nation’s first standardized measurement of patient satisfaction, covers all hospitals in the United States. It’s used to determine patient satisfaction levels to guide reimbursements from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The link between HCAHPS scores and healthcare staffing has received considerable attention. Research shows that nurse work environment is significantly related to all HCAHPS patient satisfaction measures. Patient-to-nurse workloads are related to patient’s ratings and recommendations of hospitals, which are included in HCAHPS measurements. In fact, every nursing-related question asked in the HCAHPS survey, from how well nurses listen to how quickly a call button is answered, are sensitive to nurse staffing levels and quality, research shows.

    Solution: Expert healthcare staffing can fill staffing gaps quickly and with quality nurses, which can improve the overall nurse work environment, including reducing staff problems such as last-minute scheduling changes, overtime, forced floating and other ad hoc means of covering open shifts. Expert staffing can improve nurse-patient ratios, which have been linked to HCAHPS scoring, and can affect many of the questions about bedside care that are included in the HCAHPS surveys.

This article originally appeared in Becker’s Hospital Review.