Attracting and retaining talent, particularly nursing staff, remains a top concern among home health agencies year after year. The concern is one of management and operations, but also among executive leadership, as the reported cost of replacing a registered nurse ranges from $22,000 to more than $64,000 according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Private duty nursing agencies, which employ a high percentage of clinical staff including nurses are experiencing this challenge today firsthand. Particularly in competing with other health care settings when it comes to employing RNs, some are finding technology is a way they can not only manage their remote nurses more closely, but they can also attract new nurses from the get-go.
Staffing challenges continue
“In home care, we are always competing with hospitals and doctors’ offices and other home care agencies for nurses,” says Jennifer Rae, vice president of J & D Ultracare Corp., a private duty nursing in-home care agency based in Suffern, New York. “It’s a major challenge always to recruit, hire and retain.”
Because the company focuses on pediatric private duty nursing, there were also some additional dynamics the company found challenging relating to the communications with both patients and their parents, and the nature of staff spending many hours with children and their families.
“We have the dynamic of being in the home for so many hours and maintaining boundaries, and trying to enforce that with our staff,” Rae says. “We were also at the mercy of the nurses and how timely they would be in getting paperwork in. There could be lag times of as many as a couple of weeks.”
The company, which has 180 staff and averages around 60 patients at one time, previously used a paper-based system to manage its clinical charting and scheduling. With upcoming requirements around electronic medical records (EMRs) as well as some of the personnel challenges it was facing, J & D’s leadership began to search of a solution that would assist with management of its frontline staff.
“What we were looking for was efficiency,” Rae says. “We wanted an EMR system, but we were really looking for user friendliness, support and training, and we wanted a system where we would know what nurses were doing and where they were going to be.”
In 2018, J & D implemented home health and home care scheduling and clinical documentation platform AlayaCare. After a 90-day implementation period that included weekly training and on-site classes for all staff, the company went live with the platform in January 2019.
Streamlining operations, recruiting and retention
Under an electronic system, J & D has been able to improve its management of existing staff as well as recruiting and retaining of new nurses.
“The management of clinical staff in the field has become much easier,” Rae says. “Because the nurses are in the field and we are in the office, we sometimes don’t have that connection. Being able to see how they are doing assessments and documenting, we don’t have to wait for a yearly review to go over things with them. Seeing what they are doing in real time has made us better able to manage them.”
Additionally, the agency has realized a bottom line return due to more accurate and more timely documentation that can be used as a means to justify further nursing in some cases where it is necessary, or as a requirement for payers including private insurers.
Further, Rae says, J & D can better retain nurses and attract new ones to the organization.
“Prior to going electronic, we had nurses decline because we weren’t electronic,” Rae says. “For the nurses who are tech-savvy, it’s going a long way in terms of retention.”
To learn more about AlayaCare’s private duty nursing solution, visit http://www.alayacare.com