Uncertainty around temporary staffing is a thing of the past. As skilled workforce finds itself without full time jobs every year, business models that utilize temporary workers are becoming prominent. Requirements for temporary nurses have long been met with the help of medical staffing agencies as temp nurses have embraced the flexibility of working their own hours. But temporary healthcare staffing isn’t only about having the right numbers, it’s about having access to the people you want – dedicated, experienced professionals of the highest quality.
Imagine being the unit manager of a ward at a hospital. You are responsible for supervision, planning shifts, arranging temporary staff, taking care of patients and making sure your ward is forever ready to deal with emergency cases. None of this gets efficiently done if a big chunk of your time is spent facing no shows, booking agency staff, and verifying clocking details. You wish someone could take care of all this and your job would be just clinical patient care. At present staffing agencies serve as this ‘someone’ for hospitals but the process is riddled with inefficiency. For instance, you don’t know if your staff is well-rested. There is no current system that will help verify overbooking of nurses. The ward manager is also unable to pick her preferred pool of staff.
This is where ‘Nurses On Line’ comes in. It is a mobile first platform that automates the process of booking nursing staff and matches nurses to unit managers at hospital wards. Previous online booking systems (web interface) aimed to make the process easier but fell short of being truly helpful. On these platforms, ward managers could request a particular nurse but there was no feedback from the nurse that he/she would do the shift. Often a ‘confirmed’ message would be received at the ward but the agency’s process of interacting with the nurses continued to be manual and “no shows” were not addressed in a timely manner.
How Nurses on Line removes inefficiency in the system
Nurses On Line relieves the aforementioned flaws in current booking systems by bringing nurses and hospitals on the same platform and providing nurses a mobile interface to accept incoming job requests, all in real time and with full transparency. Unit managers have access to ratings, attendance, performance and other statistics that add to the transparency of performance history. In case of issues of a disciplinary nature, attendance or general attitude problems, alerts can be reported to the NOL system, and an NOL facilitator investigates, commences appropriate action and posts a notification.
Nurses on Line’s (NOL) journey from being a call center to a mobile platform started when Ron and Joy, the owners, had a vision of a more efficient company, wanting to do away with a manual calling approach in favour of automating the process. The capacity to scale the company was limited because of the number of people working in the call center. With the technology it employs now, the process is faster. The process of getting confirmation from a nurse, that took at least an hour, now takes minutes on the mobile platform. It has immensely reduced dependency on people as everything is done automatically.
They maintain a pool of preferred nurses and the system automatically requests their pool of nurses before others. The registration process for nurses includes orienting the nurses at hospital wards to ensure quality and smooth workflow. Registration can be done without orientation as well. At the time of registration, they plan to capture data regarding wards/hospitals nurses have gone through orientation for. As nurses become orientated with more wards, this is updated on their profile info. This mapping will be one of the factors that match nurses to demand.
BENEFITS TO HOSPITALS
- Hospitals can see how different cost centres operate. On the corporate panel, one can see how many bookings have been made, who made them, who canceled and how many staff need to be hired accordingly.
- Reports generated can provide information about expenditure on staffing and related analytics.
- Unit Managers also can plan shifts for days, weeks, or even months at once by requesting nurses for that much time. They can take informed decisions by looking at a nurse’s calendar and booking slots accordingly.
- Previously there were issues of cancellations and word against word. Nurses have shown up to a shift but the hospitals told them they didn’t make the booking.
BENEFITS TO NURSES
- Nurses can manage their schedule all in one place – confirmations, bookings, cancellations, wards – everything! For example, the dates on which they have been booked are marked ‘busy’ automatically.
- They don’t have to wait until the last moment to be booked. Advance bookings (upto a month before) ensure that they can have a secure income source and guaranteed stream of work.
- In-built navigation helps nurses to not lose time trying to find the hospital they have been assigned to.
- They can access an entire record of the work they have done at one place
- Nurses can earn through a referral program if they get someone else to sign up on the platform. The referral bonus is disbursed with their pay.
Ron Drew, CEO of NOL, says “It is currently more difficult for a patient or hospital to find a nurse in South Africa, the UK and elsewhere. A nursing agency that could follow the same business model as Uber eg. one that could find a way to eliminate barriers that slow the process of the customer contacting the closest qualified nurse, will stand chance of dominating this industry. The timing is right for us to find a partner like Click Labs. It is still risky, but is a step in the right direction.” NOL is one of the largest nursing agencies in South Africa and has at present 10,000 nurses signed up on its platform and an average of 6000 bookings are carried through it in a month, resulting in a revenue of 100 million per year.
“We have the vision of becoming the leading technology innovators of On-Demand platforms enabling entrepreneurs and enterprises to ideate, validate, execute and scale business solutions. Partnering with Ron and Joy for this platform validates the need that businesses need to rely on technology platforms to act as Decision Support Systems connecting demand and supply. That is basically the only way towards an asset light growth model. Ron has been confident that once the technology platform becomes operational, they can grow 3 times from the current numbers this fiscal year,” says Parag Jain, CEO, Click Labs.
Data adds Transparency : Data greatly adds transparency to a process that has been opaque at best. On NOL, the nurses check in and check out before and after every shift, so the data shows exactly how many hours the nurse has worked. It makes it easier to keep a track of the working hours of every nurse. It benefits nurses too. In the case of a conflict, this transparency reduces word against word and you can always check what happened through the system.
Workforce Projection: Unit Managers can go through historical data to make projections of the number of permanent vs temporary staff they need. Data shows how many temporary and permanent nurses have been working in one ward during a specific time period, and they can plan for future requirements accordingly.
Quality Control : The quality check on NOL is made more stringent by a feature that allows only the booking of those nurses who have been oriented in that particular ward. An orientation ensures that the nurse is familiar with the functioning of the ward and knows where all material necessary for her activities eg. swatches, needles can be found. Only nurses who have received an orientation from NOL will be shown in the matching process. Additionally, the check in and check out timings also help keep a tab on the nurses’ schedules and output.
Nurses on Line is currently in private beta and will be launched for all the existing customers next month.
If you are looking to create an On-demand solution for your business, get in touch with us today!