Intelligent workforce solutions optimise outcomes in the health sector

30 Jan, 2020

As Workforce Management specialists, with a focus and expertise in the health sector (among others), our experience is that the health workforce can often be the “forgotten conversation” in health. Why is that?

How can you ignore workforce performance and well-being, particularly when you consider that workforce costs account for between 60 - 70% of health budgets across DHBs in New Zealand?

We believe that, for the best health outcomes for all NZers, the management, performance and well-being of the health workforce should be a priority.

Without a focus on workforce and without effective, accurate management, how do we support and resource new models of care, like Closer to Home, which is one of five strategic themes in the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s future health strategy?

These challenges have been well acknowledged in the 2019 Health and Disability Interim Report:

“It is unlikely that other industries are managing the complexities of rosters or the large number of staff with such basic and standalone systems.” Health and Disability Interim Report, 2019.

 Some DHBs have acknowledged this issue. For example, Waikato DHB is taking bold steps to future-proof their organisation. So we expect, over time, more attention to be paid to this vital area. When the first phase of the Waikato DHB workforce solution goes live, AMS systems will power the payroll for more than 60% of the DHB workforce in New Zealand.

In the meantime, unfortunately, this important area can be overlooked. Here are a few of the reasons why this occurs, plus we also look at some of the downsides created by not having a system that delivers workforce management, employee engagement, performance and well-being.

1. There’s no consolidated view of the national DHB workforce:

“The system does not have adequate systems to gather information about and manage its workforce.” Health and Disability Interim Report, 2019.

 2. Administration overheads lower productive time on patient care:

Paper records and calculations, plus manual HR and payroll processes create errors, waste time, impact employee satisfaction and increase staff turnover.

 3. It’s well-recognised that DHBs have difficulty managing BAU workloads, such as workforce management, due to IT and resource constraints:

“Clinical focus has driven IT investment and integration at the expense of systems to support the people delivering care.” Health and Disability Interim Report, 2019.

 4. Separate systems manage separate workforce areas in each DHB:

A rostering tool here, a payroll tool there, a jumble of systems that most often don’t integrate with each other and don’t provide anything close to an effective solution. Plus, many of the workforce systems in use today were not built to manage health sector specific requirements, or the requirements of NZ legislation.

 5. Can DHBs provide accurate, compliant pays whilst managing over 30 MECAs?

The NZ Health sector manage more than 30 Multi Employer Collective Agreements with a vast variety of awards, which are essential to power the needs of a 24/7/365 workforce. How can you accurately manage this level of complexity? DHBs manage and interpret MECAS differently and every DHB works autonomously with their own processes and workarounds.

6. Can DHBs remain independent while at the same time benefit from standardisation?

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution in the health sector, but every DHB has similar issues affecting their workforce performance and well-being, so a move to a standard or standards based set of systems would remove inaccuracies and be of significant benefit. Smaller DHBs would clearly benefit from this, given their limited ability to invest, and with their small resource pools they are also unable to build or maintain expertise.

There are many challenges, but also many opportunities. Taking the opportunity to increase employee engagement and efficiency is vital for an effective workforce to provide optimal health outcomes.

When it comes to addressing the challenges, at AMS we have a vision for the Health Workforce in NZ:

Workforce visibility across primary & secondary health: Harness the entire health workforce to improve healthcare delivery.

 Driving insights: Using shared data to deliver better health outcomes and understand resource requirements for new workforce models of care.

 Creating a community: To drive health specific functionality and standards, to share learnings, data and resources. Health workforce communities create efficiencies and data sources that can be replicated across the sector.

 A single national MECA Award Interpreter: Providing accuracy, consistency and visibility for negotiations and pay outcomes, which is replicated across the entire sector.

 A standard common health system configuration: Delivers consistency of process and outcome, enabling national best practise and information sharing, seamless skills transfer and more effective recruiting.

 A ‘Single Source’ of workforce truth: Integrating with other systems, providing standardised workforce requirements nationally, while removing manual processes and customisations.

 Remove technology barriers: A SaaS solution built for health, to reap efficiencies, share data and to enable better use of the workforce to deliver healthcare.