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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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.


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.


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.


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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