U of U Health Care Earns Modern Healthcare's Spirit of Excellence Award for Process Improvement

U of U Health Care Earns Modern Healthcare's Spirit of Excellence Award for Process Improvement

Jan 30, 2012 11:57 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah Health Care has earned Modern Healthcare’s 2011 Spirit of Excellence Award for Process Improvement, a new category added this year. The U of U was recognized for its innovative staffing approach, which reduced labor costs by $2.4 million while still boosting patient satisfaction and quality outcomes over the course of 18 months.

The award judges were impressed by the way the U of U completely re-evaluated how much the departments were spending on labor costs, quickly realizing that there wasn’t a good mechanism to allocate staff most efficiently. At times, there were units trying to send somebody home because they were overstaffed, while other units were hiring an agency nurse or asking someone to work expensive overtime.

 The U of U responded to the challenge by putting together a central staffing office to look at the big picture and find the right nurse-to-patient ratio based on acuity, and then move staff around accordingly. The cross-trained nurse float pool, a.k.a. the “SWAT team,” fills staffing holes when needed.

 “We did some financial work around, ‘What is the best possible volume for each unit, so the nurses are fully engaged’,” U of U Hospitals and Clinic Chief Nursing Office Margaret Pearce tells Modern Healthcare. “We want our nurses to be as productive as they can be, but not stretched too thin.”

 Pearce adds that the SWAT team has taken full ownership of the flex unit, and although some departments are still adjusting to the changes, the majority is excited about it. “They can see the difference it’s made and they’re getting a lot of positive feedback,” Pearce says.

 Each of the Modern Healthcare award recipients received a cash prize of $5,000, and honorable mentions received $1,500. This year’s competition drew 142 entries from all over the nation. Additional award categories include community outreach and patient safety. The winners were highlighted in the Dec. 12, 2011, issue of Modern Healthcare.

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Media Contacts

Ryann Rasmussen
Public Relations Specialist , Office of Public Affairs
Phone: 801-581-3102
Email: ryann.rasmussen@hsc.utah.edu

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