Designing a Data-Driven Decision Support Tool for Nurse Scheduling in the Emergency Department: A Case Study of a Southern New Jersey Emergency Department

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Abstract

Introduction:

A health system serving Burlington and Camden Counties, New Jersey, sought to improve labor productivity for its emergency departments, with emphasis on optimizing nursing staff schedules.

Methods:

Using historical emergency department visit data and operating constraints, a decision support tool was designed to recommend the number of emergency nurses needed in each hour for each day of the week.

Results:

The pilot emergency department nurse managers used the decision support tool's recommendations to redeploy nurse hours from weekends into a float pool to support periods of demand spikes on weekdays. Productivity improved significantly, with no unfavorable impact on patient throughput, and patient and staff satisfaction.

Discussion:

Today's emergency department manager can leverage the increasing ease of access to the emergency department information system's data repository to successfully design a simple but effective tool to support the alignment of its nursing schedule with demand patterns.

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