Overcome Staffing Needs By Leveraging Distribution Services

June 2018

Prime Vendor: Getting the Most from Your Most Important Supplier

By Jeff Girardi
HIDA Director of Industry Affairs

In many regions across the US, particularly rural areas, there just aren’t enough healthcare workers. Greater access to health insurance, combined with an aging population, is driving increased demand for healthcare services. Unfortunately, the supply of registered nurses (RNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and even physicians isn’t keeping up. The projected U.S. physician shortfall could reach 121,300 by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. A recent survey also showed more than one-third of chief nursing officers believe nursing shortages negatively affect patient care.

It’s been well documented; employee turnover is high in healthcare. Nurses and other workers have demanding, physical jobs. If they see the opportunity to move for higher pay or less stress, they are likely to take it. This problem isn’t likely to improve, since more than half of RNs in the U.S. are over age 55. As more nurses retire than enter the workforce, understaffing could create dissatisfaction among your employees, leading them to leave their job or profession.

Based on various meetings I’ve attended where providers share some of their biggest pain points, this issue is probably top-of-mind for your organization. Staff shortages aren’t limited to nurses and doctors; consider drivers, technicians, warehouse employees – you name it. There’s no area from which providers are immune to crucial staffing needs.

Time savers
The good news is that you don’t have to solve this problem on your own. In fact, a significant part of healthcare distribution’s value is saving customer staff time. By utilizing reliable supplier services, you can spend less time ordering, receiving, managing, and even paying for medical supplies. Here are some key areas where your partners can help alleviate staffing needs:

  • Products – Whether it’s their maintenance, required training, or convoluted purchasing systems to access them, product concerns often lead to staff dissatisfaction. Your trusted rep should be able to provide or coordinate in-service clinical staff training, ensuring correct and efficient product use. Given high turnover rates, this is an ongoing need. Be sure to look for quick, simple, and on demand training solutions for new hires.
  • Processes – Talk with your distribution partners to see if their inventory management programs can help reduce non-clinical or redundant work for staff. Low-unit-of-measure programs, Kanban systems, and other solutions can free up valuable staff resources. When reviewing processes, think less about “What can I eliminate and what can you eliminate?” in favor of “What can be done that makes us better together?”
  • People – Anything that lessens your busy employees’ workloads is likely to be appreciated. Staff and patients alike are human, and want healthcare visits to be quick and easy. Work with your rep to identify people-friendly products that reduce effort. Maybe it’s a new incontinence or skin and wound care product that decreases the number of changes or likelihood of future complications. Or a rapid test that’s a big time-saver but also easy-to-use. Safety is also important; patient lift devices can help prevent common nursing injuries, for example.

Consider including your entire staff’s input – not just your RNs or physicians – when making decisions that can ultimately enhance the quality of their care and work environment. When staff feel valued, they often provide more valuable feedback that helps you achieve sustainable improvements. Using distribution partners to help meet your staffing needs ensures you can focus on the key services provided within the walls of your organization.

From: http://www.jhconline.com/overcome-staffing-needs-by-leveraging-distribution-services.html