Staying on budget while delivering an optimal level of client care is a major challenge facing healthcare organisations across Australia.
The issue is multilayered, and fraught with difficulties—external and internal.
While there’s no magic formula to saving money, experts have identified the potential financial benefits of effective rostering and a streamlined automated system within large health service organisations.
Manual to automated rostering
Rostering is beset by challenges such as:
- staff absenteeism
- staff satisfaction levels
- not staffing for empty beds.
Factor in last-minute requests for time off or a change in shifts, and the task of rostering becomes increasingly complex.
The manual process can be laborious and opaque. But a comprehensive automated rostering system with payroll integration will reduce manual processing and put the focus back on accuracy and transparency.
The financial benefits of an automated system include:
- understanding budget during roster build
- an integrated staff management system that reduces spending on agency staff and deploys skilled staff for vacant shifts.
- no longer having to complete offline payments between cycles
Access to accurate and timely data
The 2017 white paper Rising Staff Costs in Victorian Hospitals and Health Services, which addresses unnecessary health service costs, highlights the importance of access to timely, quality data to help managers identify avoidable costs and reduce expenditure.
For example, more timely information about staff absenteeism helps managers make effective decisions to curtail expenditure and provide opportunities to reduce labour costs.
Transparency is crucial to the entire rostering system—from creating the rosters to interpreting the award to payroll.
Transparency around real-time workforce costs helps managers pinpoint areas where costs can be trimmed.
And a transparent rostering system gives staff a certain amount of access and flexibility, which increases employee satisfaction and engagement.
Making the transition from a manual to an automated system
Director of Corporate Systems Projects, Vikram Malhotra has overseen the transition from a manual to automated rostering system across three departments of the hospital.
Mr Malhotra said the hospital’s rostering system was totally manual before the pilot’s launch.
“RCH deals with 3000-plus paper time sheets over the payroll each fortnight. That’s hard to control from an accountability point of view,” Mr Malhotra said.
The pilot involves three different disciplines, which equates to 10 per cent or approximately 600 of the staff on the payroll.
“This provides a representative sample of what it will be like [when the automated system is rolled out] across the core of the hospital,” Mr Malhotra said.
Now they are through the initial set-up and transition, Mr Malhotra said the automated rostering system has far-ranging benefits, and praised its transparency, accuracy and accountability.
“Coming from a manual paper-based environment, we have found it hard to provide controls and governance around monitoring and accuracy,” Mr Malhotra said.
The pilot at RCH allowed them to sort out potential issues first, before rolling out the automated rostering system across the rest of the organisation.
“The long-term benefits are huge in that you create buy-in, so those departments using the program in the pilot become change advocates for rolling out the system to the rest of the hospital.”
Interested in the potential financial benefits of streamlined automated rostering?
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The principles and benefits of Demand Based Rostering
Addressing rising staffing costs: five ways you could be saving money
Matt is the Managing Director for Asia Pacific for Allocate Software and Account Director for NSW Health. He manages the entire portfolio of business operations, sales, professional services, and support for the region. Matt has been with Allocate for more than 16 years and moved to Australia from the UK where he was leading Allocate’s HealthAssure business unit serving the UK’s National Health Service. Prior to that he ran the Technical Delivery Group, focusing on integration and product migration across all client sectors.