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Patient Classification Data: Electronic Health Record vs. Workforce Management Solution

April 2, 2015

LoganWhere should Patient Classification solutions and staffing data reside:  Electronic Health Record or Workforce Management Solution?

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.

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