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The nursing profession is the largest single health profession in Australia. Workforce planning is critical to ensure the supply of nurses meets the demand required by the health system, to create a sustainable nursing workforce for Australia. Unfortunately, severe healthcare worker shortages are predicted in the next decade. Health Workforce Australia recently projected a shortfall of 85,000 nurses by 2025, so now there is more reason than ever to make this critical industry more efficient, more productive and more engaged.

Do care workers have the time to care?

Care workers are often reported as complaining that new policies and procedures leave them with less time to provide adequate care to their patients. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that nurses swamped with tasks such as hunting for supplies, tracking down medication, doing administrative tasks and looking for missing test results, may spend less than two hours of a 12-hour shift in direct patient care. But research has also found that the more time nurses spend at the bedside, the less likely patients are to suffer falls or infections and medication errors, and the more likely they will be satisfied with their care.

There are hundreds of political factors that influence the future workforce planning of care-givers in Australia, and there is a constant struggle on a global scale to supply enough financing and staff to provide adequate care to our aging population.  The key here is to be able to give some of the critical hours back to health care workers so they can dedicate more shift hours to providing the best level of care.

What can be done to alleviate healthcare worker shortages?

By placing a greater emphasis on technology in the planning stages, we can create a healthier, more human-interactive environment where it matters most, and RITEQ Workforce Management Software has the tools to help. If you have total visibility of your entire workforce, you can maximize productivity and efficiency. A cloud-based algorithmic system eliminates guess-work and cognitive errors when plotting shifts and pay changes. This results in senior staff will spending less time on scheduling.

‘Shift-bidding’ via SMS, operated through the Employee Self Service system ensures quickly-changing conditions are monitored and resolved and staff can be found quickly for increased demand. And a fully transparent mobile app allows your entire workforce to review their upcoming shifts, update their time sheets and request time off. This allows them to plan their valuable leisure time and keeping them focused on patient priorities whilst in the care-giving environment.

There can be no substitute for the care of a registered nurse or qualified healthcare support worker, but many healthcare workers cite their biggest frustration is actually the reduced time available for caring.  Investing in technology to improve rostering efficiency and freeing up care workers to do what they do best is going to produce the best experience for the patient. In turn, this could help reduce public spending and improve the outlook of a nation’s health and well being.

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