Logan Brittain RN
Clinical Solution Specialist, Kronos Incorporated
Hospitals in the past have purchased Patient Classificaton solutions for nursing to further evaluate the clinical picture of the care needed for each patient and in turn make better shift by shift staffing decisions. Nurse Scheduling solutions have been purchased by hospitals to manage the largest and most costly group, nursing, because of the complexities of scheduling and staffing. The idea was that utilizing both types of solutions would enhance care, give nursing a voice around patient activities and daily staffing. This has been a long fought battle between finance and nursing leaders for decades because productivity is always in the balance and often the classification of patients led finance leaders to believe it would only serve to increase staffing. Nursing on the other hand believed that patient classification would identify patient characteristics not measured in a scheduling solution and would reflect nurse activities throughout the shift thereby creating precision staffing for the oncoming shift.
Today the Electronic Health Record is essentially the bible of healthcare delivery, designed to gain efficiencies, standardize and produce volumes of data necessary to help build and sustain a vital healthcare system across the country. While the EHR adds enormous harmony to the delivery of patient care the documentation alone cannot clearly define or translate all the necessary staffing characteristics that support patient care efforts across the enterprise and is often not timely for making moment to moment staffing decisions.
So when we step back and look at the reasons hospitals choose to use a Patient Classification system, shouldn’t we really be thinking about the whole versus the part and remember that sustainability for organizations today lies within the Workforce Management solution where staffing characteristics, patient flow, patient activities and workload collaborate together. Let’s not confuse the issue, patient acuity serves “the patient” and more important how the entire organization is impacted.
Gamification – the trend of creating computer-based employee games and contests for the purpose of aligning employee productivity with the organization’s goals – is currently a popular topic with business leaders and IT. For proof, consider that Gartner recently projected that by 2015, 50 percent of all organizations will be using gamification of some kind, and that by 2016, businesses will spend a total of $2.6 billion on this technology.
With numbers like these, it is clear that that gaming is serious business and that it is here to stay. But at this point, you may be asking yourself, “Could gamification work in my healthcare environment? What potential benefits could it have?”
Today, many healthcare organizations are looking to the future and considering gamification as a way to increase employee engagement, collaboration, and productivity as well as to align their behavior with larger business goals – but they don’t know how to do it quite yet. Also, gamification can be a delicate decision, complete with advantages and risks. After all, employees’ day-to-day work responsibilities and careers are not games and can’t be trivialized. Healthcare organizations must be careful to avoid sending the wrong message to their workforce, or the whole program could backfire, or even lead to more negative consequences.
A Closer Look at Gamification in Healthcare
Why should gamification be so attractive to healthcare organizations, and how does it work? Quite simply, gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and techniques to motivate people to achieve a particular goal. The most common methods include the use of points, badges, levels, and leaderboards. Many games also include the aspect of a community to offer even more collaboration and encouragement.
It’s a familiar concept for individual users. There are already many games and apps designed to help people achieve a specific health or fitness goal such as games that promote running, exercise, and nutrition. There are even more specialized games to help users with specific issues like helping patients remember to take medication or helping children manage their diabetes. By tapping into people’s natural desires related to competition, collaboration, and achievement – in a fun way – these games can be very effective in changing behaviors and outcomes.
Innovative healthcare organizations are now attempting to use these same principles for their employees. Their hope is that these games will improve employee engagement and productivity while also generating better results for the overall organization – the ultimate win-win scenario.
Gamification in Action: Workforce Management
One area where gamification could deliver significant benefits is workforce management. Functions such as scheduling, time and attendance, training, can be time-consuming to manage or suffer from low voluntary participation. This means that managers tend to waste time getting employees to sign up for shifts, stay current on training and policy changes, complete self-assessments, participate in candidate-referral programs, and more.
Yet with gamifcation, these workforce management challenges can become opportunities for improvement. Employees are already familiar with frequent flyer points and loyalty programs, so applying this same concept to workforce management can be perceived as an extension of consumer practices to business use. When implemented effectively, games and contests engage employees, foster collaboration and team building, and increase productivity. Additionally, by aligning the games’ goals with larger “business” objectives, healthcare organizations can reap a number of significant organizational benefits.
Prizes could include just about anything that employees might find compelling or rewarding, such a VIP parking spot of the month, movie tickets, gift cards, group lunches or other events, and more.
Proceed with Caution
Implementing the right gamification technology is not as easy as it may seem. For example, the same Gartner research report predicted that up to 80 percent of workplace game apps will fail, often with adverse effects. As healthcare organizations attempt to develop the right games and contests, they must be aware of their audience and how these games will be perceived by that group. For example, the healthcare workforce is currently comprised of different generations of workers. Where baby boomers may see games and contests as frivolous, millennials are already familiar with gaming may embrace the concept, but could be turned off if they are not truly easy to use and deliver results.
In addition, they can’t be games just for games’ sake. This means that the gamification strategy has to be tied to something valuable and can’t be perceived as a distraction. Employees’ work lives are serious business, so healthcare organizations will need to do all they can to avoid seeming like they’re turning careers into games.
Gamification as a Competitive Edge
Like any other technology implementation, healthcare organizations must evaluate the underlying challenges and outline the benefits they hope to achieve from gamification. They must also carefully consider their employees and take care to roll out a game or contest that all employees will embrace – and not perceive as just another task they must do. If these organizations can successfully develop the right strategy and the right execution, gamification can be an effective way to help them achieve significant – and long-lasting – benefits.
 Gartner, Gamification: Engagement Strategies for Business and IT, November 2012.
In the spirit of Emergency Nurses Week (Oct. 5–11), the second video in our 1 in One Hundred Million series is a compelling profile of Vanessa Barrett and the daily life-and-death challenges she faces as an ER/trauma nurse for a Level III trauma center.
Gaylyn (Gaye) Timiney MSN, RN is currently Senior Clinical Operations Consultant at Kronos
What you didn’t know then but what you do know now is that nursing is all about the journey, no matter what road you take it’s clearly a journey. You didn’t know that those experiences would build upon each other and paint a clearer picture of their meaning and slowly reveal how you could make a difference in someone’s life. You didn’t know watching a child suffer would lead you to understand why adults behave the way they do. You didn’t know you would learn tolerance at a greater level. You didn’t know you could have compassion to those who seem unlovable. You didn’t know that everything you learned in kindergarten wouldn’t be enough to be a nurse. It’s a journey that never ends and one that is not forgotten to those you serve. This journey requires your best walking shoes because you will always be a nurse!
Terra Johnson MSN, BSN, RN is currently a Healthcare Services Portfolio Consultant at Kronos
Hello Newbie ..
Congratulations! You have been accepted into nursing school. You are about to embark on an exciting and rewarding profession – truly a calling and not a job. Nursing … what a unique opportunity to have an impact on people’s lives. It is often frustrating, challenging, emotional, humbling and often times literally dirty. But at the end of the day you can rest assured that you have made an impact on someone’s life.
As you begin your studies and then career, there will be days when you want to scream, cry, laugh, throw your hands in the air and even quit. DON’T! It will all be worthwhile when a patient or family member looks you in the eye and says “Thank You”. At that moment, you will know you made a great decision to become a nurse.
Jocie Strong MSN, RN, PCCN is a Healthcare Strategist at KronosDear Jocie,
As a new nurse manager, you have only just started to understand the many competencies needed to become a successful nurse leader. You decided to pursue leadership after seeing how organizational inefficiencies and hospital-centered policies could negatively influence care, while small patient-centered changes could make a world of difference to your patients. Over the next few years, as you face these patient satisfaction and quality care issues head on, you will be inspired by the resilience and creativity of your nursing staff when faced with a revolving door of challenges, by the patients and their family members who become “unit family” through their extended stays, but never give up hope that they will soon leave healthier than they came, by your senior nurses who remember a time before achieving Magnet status and who take Shared Governance as a serious opportunity to improve care to patients, mentor new nurses, and enhance the work environment and culture, and finally, by the experienced nurse leaders around you, who will teach you that nursing leadership, like bedside nursing, is all about building relationships. Appreciate the relationships and the contributions of those around you – they will ultimately shape and define you as a nurse leader.
Clint Hurt RN is currently a Solution Consultant at Kronos
You made it. You are a nurse. You have a BSN. You have a career that can take you anywhere you want to go. With this career choice you have made, comes responsibilities that you will not know what to do until that time comes. What they didn’t teach you in nursing is real life experience. How will you react to a code, someone choking, or bleeding? Also, how will you react to your first death? Will you know how to comfort the family members of the deceased? Will you know how to console yourself? These are essentials that you will need to figure out on your own during your career as a nurse.
Nursing is a career that can take you many places. Are you ready for the journey? In Nursing, you can be a Staff Nurse, Charge Nurse, Assistive Manager, Manager, Director and so forth up the chain to CNO. Are you ready for the long hours and missing events of your life and family? Nursing is a choice that you accepted. You can now choose what position you will take along the way. You will even get offers outside of the Hospital setting. Are you prepared to handle all things that come with nursing? With each event that you are involved in will get you trained for the next level. Keep expanding your knowledge and role in Nursing. The know you more the better you will become as a nurse and as a person. Don’t just settle for the first opportunity that comes along. Research it and make an educated answer like what they taught you in the school of Nursing and you nursing job. Ask questions, listen, and watch what others are doing in each situation. That will be a good way to learn. I know you are going to make it. Remember, this is a journey. You will get out of it what you put into it.