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Can Technology Help Ease Financial Pressure on Healthcare Services?

In the healthcare industry, the need for updated technology is becoming more apparent.

While tech is transforming how patients are diagnosed and treated, there are still many ways it can be used to tackle the challenges faced by day-to-day healthcare services and the associated rising costs.

When it comes to creating staff rotas, technology is an untapped resource that can ease the financial burden caused by inefficient staffing systems. Outdated technology is failing to stand up to the simplicity expected from newer technology. Therefore, it is crucial that healthcare services embrace the advancement of tech, use it to optimise the way their workforce is managed and save on unnecessary spend. Reducing high agency spend has long been a bone of contention across the NHS and healthcare organisations. New measures were introduced in 2015 to help cut the amount spent on agency staff and since then, spending has been reduced by £1 billion - but is that enough?

Overall spend on medical locums still sits at around £1.1 billion nationally, and evidence from NHS Improvement shows that there are still very high prices paid for locums, with the top 5 paid locum clinicians costing the NHS over £5 million.

The answer may be to encourage workers back into bank roles, but managing a flexible workforce effectively requires an efficient, comprehensive and user-friendly system.

This has been highlighted by the NHS diagnostic tool (from NHS Improvement) which recommends that health boards use technology to roster and manage bank services. 'Savings Made Through Better Rota Management' - The Carter Review, published in 2016, called for all health boards to have efficient and robust e-rostering platforms in place by October 2018. It highlighted that hospitals are using “outdated and inefficient” paper rosters and Lord Carter claimed to have been struck by the “immaturity” of health boards’ approach to such technology.

The report predicts that workforce savings of £2bn could be made through reducing agency staff spending, and recommends the adoption of e-rostering as a means of ensuring staff are deployed in the most productive way. The same methodology can be applied across healthcare in areas where overspending on agency staff is causing a financial strain (Primary Care, Care Homes, Hospices and others). 

The shift allocation process can be a time consuming and difficult task, with the need to manage varying skills sets whilst still ensuring that rosters remain fair, equal and transparent. While a number of healthcare organisations may already have rota software in place, many of these systems are non-healthcare focussed and do not perform as well as efficiently as they should. There may be a lack of clarity on how staff can swap shifts or book annual leave, leading to miscommunication and poor reporting. Healthcare organisations can no longer assume that their systems are good enough. They need to engage with end users in order to save time, money and make better use of their core staffing.

How Can Rota Software Help?

Organisations need to implement a system that offers intuitive functionality that helps managers use their existing pool of staff more effectively, rather than relying on expensive agency workers.

RotaMaster offers efficient auto-allocation, based on skills, compliance and minimum staffing requirements, and holds all of the relevant information to maximise shift fill rates - including preferred working days and locations. The system has extensive reporting and dashboard functionality so that the workforce can be monitored in real time. Staff members can view rotas, book overtime and complete timesheets from the RotaMaster Web App, and administrators can manage their workforce across a number of sites with varied requirements, all in one place. 

Any consistent gaps in staffing can be identified, highlighting the need for permanent recruitment - a far cheaper alternative to agency staff. 

If you would like to discuss how RotaMaster can help your rostering requirements, please call us on 01924 252360 or email enquiries@rotamaster.co.uk