This is NOT an advertisement; it is a copy of an article. Maybe it's just me, but I find it disgusting:
Online Shift Auction by Charles Townson and Catherine Whelchel April 2003 - Healthcare Information Many people today are eBay junkies, hooked on bidding and buying from home. We decided to use the same approach, in reverse, to help with nurse staffing at Spartanburg (S.C.) Regional Healthcare System.
Our information systems department set up a Web site where nurses can bid to work certain shifts. But in this case, the lowest bidder wins. For example, an employee might bid $40/hour to work an emergency department night shift. The next employee might bid $38/hour, and so on until the auction ends. The low bidder gets extra income and the healthcare system reaps benefits as well.
Online auctioning gives nurses options, flexibility and scheduling control, enabling them to choose desired shifts and work locations. Some of our nurses were doing extra shifts at other hospitals, and we wanted to give them the extra hours at their own facility while also covering shifts previously covered by agency nurses. Having our own nurses cover additional shifts would ensure a level of dedication and efficiency that could not be achieved with contract nurses.
Key players in planning the site were the system webmaster and nurse staffing coordinator for the internal float pool, with assistance from human resources and accounting. Guidelines were set to ensure that nurses would be qualified for the areas they bid on. The staffing coordinator placed some bids to test the site and resolve problems. Within weeks, the site was ready for use.
Pilot testing was set so only PRN (as-needed) RNs could bid, simplifying payroll issues during the trial period. At first, most shifts sold at the opening bid. In the first two months, only 12 shifts were bid on. But through word of mouth, our organization newsletter and letters to RNs homes, interest grew. Now, with the site in place for more than six months, 35 shifts have been put up for bid in a single week, with up to 10 bids on a shift.
After completion of the pilot phase, the site was opened to full and part-time RNs, and more than 150 have applied to use it. Another hospital in the system has also begun to use the application.
To use the site, nurses must have completed orientation and may not be under any disciplinary action or probation. Logins and passwords cannot be shared. Passwords are program-generated only after a completed online application is approved.
The auction is accessible at Spartanburg's site (http://www.spartanburgregional.com/e...nt/auction.htm
). For the time being, employees cannot place bids while at work inside the system. They must have a unique e-mail address outside the system, which may be a limiting factor for nurses who do not have Internet capabilities at home.
The site is very easy to use. Nurses can search for open shifts by date or work area. The opening bid is set to less than what the hospital would pay to a nursing agency but in the range of what an agency would pay so we can compete with agencies while eliminating associated overhead costs. Rates are set in 50-cent increments to eliminate penny-by-penny bids.
Shifts appear on the site 17 days in advance. The winner is notified electronically 72 hours before the shift. Nurse managers may check to see if there is a bid for a given shift but, because of system security, cannot tell who has bid. At present, winners must call the staffing office to confirm the shift.
The site does not integrate with hospital systems, so payroll remains a manual check-request process since every rate is different. Personnel who oversee the site each day perform this check-and-balance procedure. As the site becomes more active, automatic feed into the payroll system will become a necessity. The positives far outweigh the costs of establishing and maintaining the auction site. More shifts are covered internally, by personnel who have a working relationship with the healthcare system. The site keeps technically savvy nurses engaged, and we hope that visiting the auction site will become part of their routine. Nurses can make extra money at a competitive rate and can schedule their time in advance.
We are considering adding LPNs and other positions to the auction site, and ancillary departments with staffing shortages, such as respiratory therapy and radiology, are also interested in trying out the system. The site has truly provided an innovative solution to our staffing complexities. It is a win-win-win situation: patients receive care, nurses have choices and the organizations saves agency expenditures. Charles Townson is chief operating officer and Catherine Whelchel is chief nursing officer, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, Spartanburg, S.C.
Copyright (C) 2003. The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved