Hospitals are information-based organizations and data is crucial for all departments. This is especially true for Environmental Services Departments—who employ the second largest workforce in the hospital—where data is essential to developing the right staffing model.
There are three key reasons you need to collect and use comprehensive EVS data to get the staff you need, while proving your employees’ value to hospital administration.
1. Get the administration to take your staffing needs seriously.
As a non-revenue generating department, EVS directors have to fight harder for resources. If your department can’t invoice or get reimbursed by insurance, you’re looked at as overhead that needs to be reduced.
Data is the only way to build a convincing case for every employee in your department.
You have to start from the ground up. You need to create an inventory of every type of space, variation in fixtures, and cleaning time and frequency. This information can be translated into a staffing analysis that equates workload with required work hours.
But even this data only tells you part of the number employees needed. Lock-In positions, management employees, duties besides cleaning (Linen PU/Delivery, Meeting Set-Up/Breakdown, etc.) and nonproductive time (breaks, sick days etc.) are all variables administration must understand.
Most importantly, hospital administration needs to understand the repercussions of insufficient staffing. If staffing needs aren’t met, a less sanitary hospital isn’t a possibility—it’s a reality—and one that will affect their bottom line.
2. Protect your resources before someone else jeopardizes them.
If you don’t have a handle on your data, someone else will be brought in by hospital administration to do it for you—and often, they will have different priorities and won’t be an ES expert. Gathering detailed, actionable data is the only way to protect your resources from common risks like these.
Oversimplification of cleaning requirements
It’s easy for consultants who don’t understand the ins-and-outs of EVS departments to make sweeping assumptions about ES staffing. We’ve seen countless industry outsiders come into a hospital and calculate the ES employees needed solely on the facility’s square feet. This methodology neglects critical information that greatly affects the time needed to keep the facility clean.
Before adding or cutting resources, you need comprehensive data that takes into account:
- All cleanable areas, not just patient rooms. This means ORs, corridors, restrooms, lobbies and elevators—all of which aren’t accounted for in ADT systems—that need to be documented and logged to a database.
- Different floor types and flooring finishes require different cleaning steps, which results in different amounts of time to clean them.
- Types and number of fixtures in a space—all the way down to whether there is a shower or sink in the room.
- Room types and level of use. An OR has different cleaning steps than a patient room or an office.
Faithfully recording these variations is what produces a staffing analysis based on reality, not generalizations.
Hospital budget cuts
The increasing costs of healthcare and running a hospital make EVS departments, with their large staff, a target for budget cuts. An EVS Director will inevitably be confronted by someone saying the department can be run with fewer people.
If you can’t provide hard-and-fast numbers to support your staffing levels, you’ll face staffing cuts. Comprehensive EVS data can help you run, analyze “What if?” scenarios, so you can even answer hypothetical questions definitively. With this knowledge, you can justify complete staffing scenarios according to your budget and quality criteria and set expectations—satisfying administration and protecting your resources.
Staffing cuts that impact quality
It’s easy for an outside consultant to tell you to cut employees. In fact, it’s a scenario a member of the Smart Facility Software team, Chris Lucier, experienced firsthand when he was an EVS Director. He was told to cut 20% of his employees, a number that wasn’t backed by reasoning or understanding what work would have to stop.
Chris asked himself: How was it possible their staffing levels were so far off? How could he possibly implement these changes?
Instead of blindly trusting the consultant, Chris dug into his data, which was housed and organized in ES Optimizer, to report on the impact the recommended cuts would have on the cleanliness of the hospital. He was able to show exactly what each of his employees was doing and the reduction in quality—in every area of the hospital—their termination would cause.
He not only saved his employees’ jobs, but his own. Not to mention the reputation of the hospital and health of its patients.
3. Turn massive amounts of data into strategic staffing decisions.
Over 20 years ago, it was common for hospitals to have a large staff and ample time to clean a hospital. But, today it’s the direct opposite—hospital administrations routinely scrutinize EVS budgets and want you to run leaner. This situation necessitates using your staff in the most strategic way you can.
Comprehensive EVS data can be used to optimize your day-to-day staffing, minimizing nonproductive time and maximizing work completed by:
- Scheduling project work so it isn’t missed and doesn’t interrupt daily work assignments when it becomes an emergency. Plan project work, such as floor polishing, that isn’t done daily to avoid surprises and interruptions in daily routines.
- Creating realistic, full and equitable work assignments. Increase employee satisfaction and productivity by assigning equal workloads and rotating schedules across your hospital.
- Getting real-time data on completed work and service requests. Know when you need to shift staff as needs change to avoid downtime, and ensure when tasks are done, they’re done right.
- Identifying issues and solutions. Know not only that you need to change something, but where, when and how much it needs to change.
These workflow optimizations will keep your EVS department running smoothly, while tracking and reporting on these efficiencies will prove the value of your full-time employees.
Using technology to manage your data, so you can manage your department.
The sheer volume of what an EVS department does every day requires a special tool to manage it. You need to account for the number of times your staff visits patient rooms, the number of policing assignments needed to ensure quality, and every stairwell, corridor, and elevator.
It adds up to hundreds of thousands of tasks and is too much for spreadsheets to handle.
If you can’t organize your data in an intuitive, easy-to-use way, you won’t be able to harness its power to make truly intentional management decisions. You need a comprehensive database with supporting tools and technologies to streamline your workflow and empower you to make better staffing decisions.
Technology made by EVS Directors for EVS Directors
For over 30 years, Smart Facility Software has helped hospital EVS departments gather, organize and use their data more effectively. Our grassroots model is developed through on-the-ground experience and provides extensive and detailed data that tells your department’s story.
But data is only as good as the way it’s organized. Creating a dynamic database where you can input and access data anywhere, any time, is what sets our technology apart. With ES Optimizer—our foundational technology—you have the data you need, when you need it and how you need it, to make informed, strategic decisions.
Stop guessing. Start knowing your department is staffed correctly.
In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, there’s no substitute for data-backed decision making. The success of your EVS department relies on knowing exactly what needs to be done and how many full-time employees you need to do it and the real-world consequences of operating without them.
The alternative is a hospital that isn’t cleaned effectively, which can result in a loss of market share, or even worse, an increase of hospital acquired infections.
Read our Woman’s Hospital – Baton Rouge Case Study for real-world examples of how ES Optimizer refined staffing levels, increased productivity and resulted in cost-savings.