Will Affordable Care Act Ultimately Result in Greater Contract Labor?

Posted by Tim Teague on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 @ 02:32 PM

Two of the driving tenets of the Affordable Care Act are the push for better patient outcomes and reduction of costs. Since labor spend accounts for the largest percentage of acute care expense, it is a prime target for cost cutting.

 

This presents a conundrum for the hospital. How to cut labor costs while improving the quality of care (decreased re-admission rates).  A corollary to this dilemma has been the “just-in-time” staffing models the industry has used for years.  The difference is while a manufacturer can judge work in process by the amount of incoming orders, the healthcare industry has not been able to predict the number of orders (average length of stay) in a reliable manner.

 

Peter Drucker, foremost business analyst declared just before his death in 2005 that “increasing the productivity of knowledge workers was the most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century.” The question here is how can data be used to transform the healthcare industry to both decrease costs and improve quality?

 

The answer is equal parts simple and complex. There is enough historical data from millions of hospital admissions across the country to fine-tune a census model that provides extremely accurate daily figures for a unit-by-unit count. Several firms have been working on the analysis of these figures for years. In the same way the electronic medical records have grudgingly made their way into our healthcare system, strategic census models will soon be the norm.

 

When this data becomes granular for hospital systems, the current models for large scale census predictors will become extinct.  This new model for just-in-time staffing will finally provide a day-to-day, week-to-week picture of labor needs. Fine tuning the levels of FTE’s will become better, and non-fixed-cost labor will boom.

Tags: Affordable Care Act, Staffing Agency, Affordable Healthcare Act, Contract Labor, staffing

Donald Trump and Affordable Care

Posted by Tim Teague on Fri, Jun 03, 2016 @ 03:37 PM

Donald Trump and Affordable Care Act

 

As Donald Trump moves closer to becoming the Republican’s presidential candidate in the general election, there are new ramblings of what he would do to Obamacare if elected. Many arguments have been made against the continuance of this growing governmental entity, but odds are the ACA has already “left the station”, never to be diminished or ended. The last battles are likely to be held in state legislatures where expansion of Medicaid and State sponsored exchanges are still in flux. A particularly interesting outcome will be the Commonwealth of Kentucky where a recently elected Republican governor has vowed to dismantle and discontinue a well-entrenched statewide exchange that had been operating for years.

 

If history is to be repeated, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay, and massive changes to its structure are very doubtful. Let’s take a quick look at what was said in the 60’s when Medicare, a similarly tagged national health plan was proposed.

 

Ronald Reagan: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” [1961]

George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine.” [1964]

Barry Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” [1964]

Bob Dole: In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” [1965]

 

If these arguments sound familiar, so will the likely outcome of the more recent protests against the ACA. In a period when both major parties are struggling to figure out who their constituencies really are, odds are the Affordable Care Act will just keep lumbering along.

 

Good news for those seeing increased healthcare dollars expanding their business, but not necessarily for those desiring less government intervention.

What are you writing about today?

Tags: Affordable Care Act, Healthcare, health

Physicians becoming Hospital Employees - Does it affect the Locum Tenens Demand?

Posted by Tim Teague on Wed, Mar 02, 2016 @ 11:22 AM

Between 2010 and 2015, a milestone in the practice of physicians was reached. The number of physicians working as employees of a healthcare organization or a group practice surpassed the 50% mark. This direction of employment versus independent Screen_Shot_2016-02-12_at_12.51.30_PM.pngpractices has been a growing trend. Hospital systems have been aggressively recruiting physicians for several years. Their financial model relies heavily on the negotiation of rates with insurers, and having employed physicians in-house enhances that bargaining power. What should continue to push this trend are the “pay for performance” economies within the Affordable Care Act. Another factor is a new generation of physicians that are more interested in work-life balance than investing time, money, and energy in building their own practice.

At first glance, it would seem this trend would decrease the demand for Locum Tenens. Upon further investigation, the opposite will probably be the case. One needs to look no further than the burgeoning contract nurse industry to see an important trend. Demand for contract nurses has historically been a year-round need, with summer vacation times for the in-house nurses creating some of the greatest demand.

As physicians continue to enter the market as hospital employees, many of the trends that have followed the historic nursing demand will be seen in physician demand. Mandatory vacations and the typical summer swings should increase with physician employment trends. Although the Staffing Industry Analysts predict a 6% increase for the locum tenens market, it should see increasing demand as more physicians move to the employment model.

Tags: Locum Tenens

Cyber Security Part 2:  Data Breach and Cloud Computing Dangers

Posted by Tim Teague on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 @ 08:37 AM

As previously discussed, the move to Cloud computing is simply the change from working with applications that are loaded on your local computer to working with applications that are generated online via the Internet.

Cloud Computing, or web-based applications are not a “Clouds” per se, but are Laptop Work-10.jpgapplications that are housed in a computer that is accessed remotely via the Internet. Data centers around the world house computers that are designed to allow users from around the world to connect to these computers that run various applications while the results are displayed on your local computer.

Consider a large-scale online service such as eBay. Millions of users may simultaneously be looking at items, bidding on items, or paying for items. This activity is NOT happening on your local computer, but on an array of computers housed in various data centers, processing your request, and sending back results to be viewed on your local screen.

This process forms the genesis of cybercrimes. An analogy would be putting many of your personal valuables in your car, and traveling to a foreign destination using the Interstate. You may not know the exact directions to your destination, so you rely on traffic signs along the way. The problem is these traffic signs are nothing more than electronic billboards, and someone can temporarily take over the billboards and give you false directions to lead you to a very bad location. Waiting for you at the end of the road are criminals that can hold you hostage and steal your valuables.

Although a simplistic analogy, consider the Internet a public transportation system, and the information presented along the way, if hi-jacked (hacked), can steal valuable information since you are truly traversing a public road.

The degree to which hackers will go to obtain or hack information is phenomenal. Although the possibilities are endless, two of the most creative schemes are 'phishing’ and 'Trojan horses'. Phishing typically fools users into thinking they are at a legitimate website that asks for proprietary financial information. These sites are carefully constructed and may have every appearance of looking exactly like an identical trusted site. Many times hackers will buy domain names with a slightly misspelled address name to capture unsuspecting, but “too quickly” typed URLS.

Trojan horses are typically received via email and have attachments that request to be opened. These attachments come under the guise of something important that must be opened to receive some important information or benefit. Another analogy would be traveling down the Interstate and the electronic sign changes to say “Free Gas” one mile ahead. You can’t resist, but once you exit, there is not a happy ending.

In summary, if you are going to travel the public highways, better check your destination before you start and have a good guide to rely on to make sure your valuables are kept safe!

Tags: Cyber Security

Cyber Security Part 1:  Understanding Cloud Computing

Posted by Tim Teague on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 @ 10:08 AM

The terms “Cloud Computing” and “In the Cloud” are terms that harken pictures of data sitting somewhere in the sky with no physical attributes. Although nothing could be further from the truth, this terminology still leaves consumers scratching their heads as to how all this data can live up in the sky!

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To make the terminology more clear, the day you started using email, you were involved in “Cloud Computing”. It may be more instructive for you to substitute the word “Internet” for Cloud. In other words, any application that requires a connection to the Internet can be considered “Cloud Computing”

The reason we are hearing more about “Cloud Computing” is the extensive array of services that now require Internet connections to use. Many of the applications that users historically loaded to their desktop or laptop computer no longer require these applications to be loaded locally. Some examples of products that have moved to “Cloud” or “Internet” based use include the Microsoft Office suite of products, Quicken, QuickBooks, and a large array of other products that can be accessed and utilized via the Internet.

One of the downsides of “Cloud Computing” is the necessity of a continuous connection to the Internet. If the user has a provider that has numerous outages, these Internet Based applications cannot be used during these outages. The advantages of Cloud based computing is the ability of the provider to automatically provide product enhancements and patches to enhance both security and usability.

So the next time you hear the term “Cloud Computing”, just replace the word Cloud with Internet, and you’ve got it!

Tags: Cloud Computing

How Leading Staffing Agencies Can Quickly Fill 1,000’s of Job Orders

Posted by Kate Akers on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 @ 11:02 AM

In the staSlide1.jpgffing industry time is of the essence and having the right technology can make or break a company. EZ Job Filler, a new breakthrough technology in medical staffing, allows agencies to fill VMS job assignments even faster.

BlueSky Medical Staffing Software has partnered with EZ Job Filler to automate the process of importing job orders from various job aggregators. Utilizing this tool, agencies can simply forward the orders from various VMS platforms to the BlueSky System via EZ Job Filler to quickly populate the system for fast candidate matching.

BlueSky Medical Staffing Software is a leading provider of Software as a Service solution in the healthcare staffing industry. BlueSky services manage credentials, schedules, payments and reporting for a variety of healthcare providers. BlueSky continues its commitment to meeting the needs of its clients by providing them with cutting-edge tools in this evolving market, such as providing it’s users with a mobile application and now offers its latest enhancements with EZ Job Filler.

The demand for healthcare staff is steadily growing due to signing of the Affordable Care Act and the aging baby boomer generation. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistic report on current employment shows the healthcare sector averaged monthly growth of 40,000 jobs in 2015 versus 26,000 in 2014.

Consequently, Healthcare staffing has seen the proliferation of vendor management systems (VMS) and/or managed services providers (MSP) whereby jobs are aggregated and delivered in bulk to temporary agencies. These bulk orders often create new manual entry requirements for the staffing agencies. EZ Job Filler has successfully bridged the gap between the demand for services and the best possible matches.

The technology is one more move in the elimination of tedious and oftentimes error prone data entry. Tim Teague, President of BlueSky Medical Staffing Software and a veteran of the healthcare staffing industry, understands that technology can give agencies a significant advantage. He says, “As demand for healthcare workers increases, the battle for talent will be won by those organizations that can respond the most quickly and efficiently.”

EZ Job Filler is designed to maximize the user’s speed to market, while minimizing the back-office staff required to enter each posted job listing.

Click here to learn more about this ground breaking techonology. 

Tags: staffing software, VMS

Float Pools- Are they working the way you expect?

Posted by Tim Teague on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 @ 10:51 AM

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If your float pool or staffing bank is not providing the results you need, you are not alone. One of the great challenges in the acute care setting is the ability to meet the challenge of daily staffing expectations. Two of the major drivers in this challenge can be the random “call-offs” in an already short-staffed cost center, coupled with a census that is becoming more and more volatile.

From a budgetary perspective, what I call “just-in-time” decisions for staffing don’t seem too onerous on that day, but as days turn to weeks, and weeks to months, these daily “quick fixes” can grow out of control.

Just as I tell my kids to scrape the last bit of peanut butter from the jar before throwing it away, too many staffing departments are “buying” new jars before they have truly utilized what is available.

The solution to maximizing a float pool is most often a technical solution. There are a few basic questions that can determine if the float pool is really being maximized.

During the development of the pool, were all affiliated offices, facilities, and units informed of the intent?

  • Are there any “crossover” competencies from participants that might be of use? (Maybe an L&D nurse has had come ED experience.)
  • Is there a true “search and find” function that quickly uncovers all possible matches that include-
    1. Availability (granular down to the hours available)
    2. Matching competencies
    3. Current credentials
    4. Location (within established distances)
    5. Prior experience and amount of time worked (if any) in the requesting unit.
  • Is there a true “interactive” system of delivery and response to needs that incudes text message response to accept or reject?

We find that those facilities that are answering “yes” to these questions are truly “getting every last bit of peanut butter” from the jar and are maximizing available resources while minimizing cost.

Tags: Healthcare, medical staffing, VMS, hospital float pool,, staffing

Trick or Treat - Happy Halloween!

Posted by Jennifer Kardell on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 @ 11:05 AM

It's that time of year again...

halloween ghostRushing around trying to find the perfect costumes, buying candy for all the little trick-or-treaters, and baking lots of goodies for halloween parties. Once this is all done the chaos turns in to parents rushing their kids door-to-door to fill their bags and buckets full of candy before their bed time. However, this seems to be all people really know of Halloween - ring a doorbell and get candy. There's more to the holiday than that.

The orange-and-black holiday originated in a country known for green, Ireland. This holiday celebration was brought over to North America by immigrants from Europe who would share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes around a bonfire. Jack-o-lanterns weren't always carved in to pumpkins, turnips were originally used in an attempt to keep away spirits and ghosts. There is still so much more to know about this holiday, so test your knowledge below!

Think you know everything about Halloween?...Test your knowledge!

(Answers below...don't cheat!)

1. True or False: Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.

2. Halloween candy sales average ____ in the US each year.

         a.3 million   b. 2 billion   c. 100 million   d. 5 million

3. Halloween ranks second to which holiday when it comes to commercial success?

         a. Christmas   b. Thanksgiving   c. 4th of July   d. New Year's Eve

4. True or False: Pumpkins also come in white, blue and green

5. The most popular candy given is _____.

         a. gum   b. suckers   c. gummi/chewy candies   d. chocolate

6. ______ is the number 1 U.S. city for trick-or-treating.

         a. Chicago   b. Nashville   c. San Francisco   d. New York

7. According to the National Confectioner’s Association, more than ____ pounds of candy corn will be produced this year.

         a. 10,000   b. 35 million   c. 100,000   d. 1 billion

8. True or False: In the United States, the first citywide celebration was in Anoka, Minnesota.

9. ___% of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ Halloween trick-or-treat bags.

         a. 90   b. 75   c. 40   d.25

10. According to superstition, if you stare into a mirror at midnight on Halloween, what will you see?

         a. bloody mary   b. your future spouse   c. your death   d. dead ancestors

 

row of pumpkins

 

Answers: 1. True, 2. b. 2 billion, 3. a. Christmas, 4. True, 5. d. chocolate, 6. c. San Francisco, 7. b. 35 million, 8. True, 9. a. 90, 10. b. your future spouse

Tags: halloween, holidays, trick or treat, costumes, trivia, happy halloween, Blogging, healthcare scheduling software, healthcare staffing software, healthcare staffing agency

5 Ways to Reduce Risk with Your Background Screening Program

Posted by Guest Post on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 @ 09:45 AM

We hope you enjoy a guest post from our BlueSky partner Dr. Alan Lasky at United Background Screening.

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Over the past few years, litigation has tripled in employment background screening, due to increased regulations and scrutiny of the background screening process by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and other industry-specific auditing agencies.   Recently, employee/candidates have filed a significant number of class-action lawsuits, causing companies to pay out millions of dollars in settlements, creating a wake-up call for organizations to take more time and care in reviewing their background screening and hiring programs.   Universal Background Screening has listed five strong areas to review with your legal counsel, pertaining to your employment screening program, to help reduce risk:

1)      Following the FTC and EEOC Guidance Factors/Requirements – Over the past few years, both the EEOC and FTC have focused more on the topic of employment screening, making sure organizations are fair and just in their practice of hiring candidates.   In April 2012, the EEOC launched updated guidance factors, focused on how organizations use criminal records and how it impacts Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin of a candidate.   In addition, the FTC and EEOC created documents to educate both the employer and potential employee on the proper background screening process.   It is important for employers to know these guidance factors are best practice processes to reduce the risk of perceived discrimination and for educating those firms not following proper screening requirements.

2)      Working with an Accredited Firm – Although there are hundreds of screening firms in the United States, there are only a handful that have taken the time and care of becoming an accredited firm with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS).   This important accreditation certifies that the employment screening firm has been audited for proper procedures, securely protects private information and understands both state and federal requirements.   You should always ask your screening firm whether they have obtained this accreditation since it is one of the only recognized certifications in the employment screening industry.

3)      Providing the Proper Disclosure and Authorization Forms to a Candidate – Many of the latest class action lawsuits have ensued, due to organizations failing to provide the candidate a form that has the correct disclosure and authorization language, many times unfortunately including extraneous information. In addition, a job application form should never be merged with the background screening disclosure and authorization.  Moreover, a candidate should always sign an authorization form prior to any firm conducting a background check and the signed copy should be kept within the employer’s organization, in the event that anyone ever questions the legitimacy of the authorization.  Your background screening firm should have a sample form for your review; you should also always confer with your legal counsel to verify that your company has sound employee background screening processes and procedures in place.

4)      Following the Adverse Action Process Properly – If at any time, any part of a candidate’s report influences your organization to potentially not hire a candidate, that candidate has a right to dispute the reported information for any inaccuracies. This is called the Adverse Action Process.  Many organizations have been sued for not following the federally required procedures, which likely could have been avoided if they had understood the simple, but required, process.   It is an excellent idea to work with your company’s legal counsel and background screening firm to confirm that you have the proper procedures prepared and that your organization’s employees, including new hires, know, understand and follow the required process.

5)      Reviewing Your Own Policies/Procedures with your Legal – It is always recommended to work with your legal counsel as often as necessary to verify that no changes to the laws/regulations pertaining to employment screening have occurred either federally or in your state(s).  Also, the periodic review of internal hiring procedures is essential so that your organization reduces its risk by committing to legally sound, standardized screening and hiring procedures.   By providing information to your employees in your written company policies and procedures manual and regularly updating hiring staff on the required procedures, you will ensure consistency in your hiring program.

 By paying attention to these five areas in your background screening program, you will help reduce risk of lawsuits or other unintentional consequences from inadequate processes. If any additional information is needed, we always suggest speaking with your legal counsel and you can always reach out to Universal Background Screening, a partner of the BlueSky, dedicated to providing compliant and accurate employment screening.

 

Tags: integrations, Universal Background Screening

BlueSky gets a new look

Posted by Kate Akers on Mon, Sep 28, 2015 @ 12:12 PM

On September 27, 2015, BlueSky launched a new website to help visitors learn more about the software and it’s integrated partners, and more is to come.  Screen_Shot_2015-09-28_at_9.56.57_AM

The new mobile responsive, updated site created by Staffing Robot features videos and details features and integrations and explains how BlueSky can aid medical staffing agencies and facilities to streamline processes and improve efficiency. In addition to learning about BlueSky Medical Staffing Software, visitors can read BlueSky’s blog that covers hot button, relevant issues as well as request a demo, ask a question or reach support.

More change is to come for BlueSky, however, currently underway is a project to revise the user interface for the BlueSky Software itself.

If you are attending Healthcare Staffing Summit in Las Vegas, please be sure to visit BlueSky in booth 112 to see screen shots the software’s new look.

Tags: News

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