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The Importance of a Tailwind!

January 5, 2012

About an hour ago, my plane pulled back from the gate at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. As we make our way to the runway, the all too familiar announcements from the cockpit begin. The introductions – “This is First Officer Frank Lee Idontcare, on behalf of myself, and Captain America we want to thank…blah, blah, blah,” and my attention drifts.

I am reengaged immediately when I hear the report that we will be arriving “late” into Atlanta. I’m reengaged, but not surprised. Atlanta as a hub for Delta airlines is often an obstacle to my arriving at my destination. What does surprise me is the reason why we will be “late” into Atlanta this time. The reason given is “…no tailwind”.

No tailwind! Flying west to east there is always a tailwind. I count on that tailwind to get me to my destination faster. After all, that is the definition of a tailwind – “…blows in the direction of travel of an object. A tailwind increases the object’s speed and reduces the time required to reach its destination.”

Well, not a lot I can do about it – no tailwind – “…so sit back, relax and we hope you enjoy the ride. Thanks again for blah, blah, blah…”

I’m looking out the window trying not to ruminate about the situation and it occurs to me that without realizing it the meeting I just attended in Phoenix was all about, you guessed it, tailwinds!

I had spent yesterday with a group of healthcare executives discussing the importance of workforce management solutions. We spoke of staff scheduling practices and their current efforts to leverage data related to workforce management to improve their ability to provide quality healthcare services and do so in a cost conscious manner. We spoke of their desire to explore ways in which their workforce management practices could be enhanced through technology.

And thus, began our discussion about how through technology they could gain the advantage of a “tailwind” that would aid them in arriving at their destination more quickly!

 Using a staff scheduling solution, they could speed up the development of accurate, fair, equitable, safe, cost conscious, and regulatory compliant workforce distribution plans. As well as, use of critical workforce analytics technology would be invaluable in guiding them through course corrections, in real time, to enhance the likelihood that they would be successful in managing the workforce as planned or even better than planned.

So, just as my plane will get me to my destination with or without a “tailwind”, healthcare organizations will continue to use pen, paper and spreadsheets to schedule, staff and analyze the distribution of their workforce on the path to their destination. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could both get to our destination and achieve our goals more quickly and with less effort?

 Wouldn’t it be great if we could take advantage of a “tailwind”!

My situation leaves me dependent on the forces of nature, but the “tailwind” that technology in workforce management can provide is available to all healthcare organizations in a hurry to get to their destination.

(BTW, I wrote this at 37,000 feet using in flight WiFi…too cool!)

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