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Float Pools- Are they working the way you expect?

Posted by Tim Teague

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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