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Patient Census: Dealing With Fluctuations, Trends, & Staffing Issues

Healthcare Jobs

Hospital patient census or healthcare facility census are subject to fluctuations in rates during peak times of the year – namely – winter. It can be hard to predict how much staff your facility will need in advance. Please keep reading to learn more about what patient census is and why it changes, the unpredictability of hospital census, solutions for a high patient census, and how to find and hire nurses and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) near you.

What is Patient Census in a Hospital or Healthcare Facility?

Those who dive into working in the healthcare industry are entirely aware of the unpredictability and changes that can occur within seconds. Healthcare workers are equipped with the knowledge that new challenges can appear at any minute. However, healthcare facility managers take this knowledge to an utterly new level as running and managing a facility comes with many challenges and facility data to keep track of to ensure proper and efficient patient care. When managing a facility, many of these factors can change quickly and tend to fluctuate with the seasons, one of the essential statistics managers are required to keep track of is patient census.

This data, in particular, allows hospitals and facilities to plan operations and costs so the facility can operate properly under specific circumstances. Thus, patient census rates are critical for any facility to keep track of. 

However, what exactly is a patient census? This term stands for the current number of individuals a facility is providing care for at the time. As expected of such data, fluctuating patient census is not unusual and can be expected, especially seasonally. With the holidays on the horizon, it’s more crucial than ever for healthcare facility managers to remember the importance of the patient census and how to operate under varying circumstances.

The Unpredictability of Hospital Census

As noted in tracking data such as patient census, this can be extraordinarily unpredictable with changes that can happen quickly, such as the incredible increase in the patient census that facilities faced when the COVID-19 pandemic began. When keeping track of whether or not patient census is at a low or high, there are other factors to manage to ensure the facility is running at the best it possibly can, most importantly costs and nurse staffing. In addition to the fluctuating patient census during the holidays, nurse staffing during holidays can be a problem if not handled correctly.

As with many factors considered within healthcare facilities, the patient census has benefits and downsides depending on the current statistics at a facility. There are specific scenarios where facilities prefer to have a low census, considering this a good thing for the facility. However, having a lower patient census means less income and possibly being unprepared for sudden patient influxes. However, you can adequately staff your healthcare facility for low census and higher patient census rates in unison. In that case, you can achieve what is truly best for your healthcare facility and its workers.

High Patient Census Solutions

It’s a known fact that hospitals and facilities typically operate under the average census rates. Therefore, with less and sometimes little to no preparation in the incident of a significant influx of patients, they are usually able to make due. However, considering the upcoming holiday season, we’re here to provide you and your facility with advice and methods of being prepared for anything that comes at you in case you need to fill registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), or CNA jobs – fast. The most critical factors to remember are your facility’s staffing and patient outcomes. Using your favorite healthcare staffing app or taking in travel nurses during holidays can be detrimental in specific scenarios due to how ever-changing the census can be.

Although the use of a staffing agency can always prove to be quite costly for facilities, regardless of the current state of the patient census, due to the flexibility of census during the holiday season, using expensive staffing options can prove to be damaging as low census can result in a loss of funding and temporary staff such as travel nurses moving to a different facility. To combat this, healthcare facilities can hire PRN healthcare workers with an on-demand healthcare staffing app, cut costs, and only hire staff when they are genuinely required, such as even one day.

How to Find Nurses and Healthcare Workers

Although being presented with this information is insightful thus far, you’re most likely still wondering how to find and hire PRN nurses and CNAs for your facility when you need last-minute healthcare staffing. Luckily, you are already in just the place you need to be here at Nursa. We are the leading and pioneering PRN healthcare staffing app that will be here when you need us. Although this is being presented as a solution to fluctuating patient census rates, posting PRN jobs is beneficial in any healthcare situation, even when you have a free shift that needs to be filled.

It’s easier than ever to hire PRN workers for your facility with us here at Nursa. You can sign up for an account with us today and begin posting shifts before you know it. With many benefits for not only your facility but also the workers themselves and held highly as a favorite healthcare staffing app for many, you won’t be disappointed with Nursa. Download the app today.

Written by Miranda Booher, RN

SEO Content Marketing Administrator Miranda has been a registered nurse since 2007 and has a healthy background in travel nursing, healthcare IT, and digital marketing. She brings an interesting combination of stellar SEO content management and copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has an impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Bolivia, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her spending time with her family traveling in the Andes Mountains.

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