Frontiers in Operations: Valuing nursing productivity in emergency departments

M&SOM Journal (doi.org/10.1287/msom.2023.0039)

45 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2024 Last revised: 16 May 2024

See all articles by Hao Ding

Hao Ding

Goizueta Business School, Emory University

Sokol Tushe

University of South Florida - Muma College of Business

Diwas Singh KC

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Donald K.K. Lee

Emory University - Goizueta Business School; Emory University - Dept of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Date Written: April 1, 2024

Abstract

Problem definition: We quantify the increase in productivity in emergency departments (ED) from increasing nurse staff. We then estimate the associated revenue gains for the hospital and the associated welfare gains for society.

Academic/practical relevance: The United States is over a decade into the worst nursing shortage crisis in history, fueled by chronic under-investment. To demonstrate to hospital managers and policymakers the benefits of investing in nursing, we clarify the positive downstream effects of doing so in the ED setting.

Methodology: We use a high-resolution data set of patient visits to the ED of a major U.S. academic hospital. Time-dependent hazard estimation methods (nonparametric and parametric) are used to study how the realtime service speed of a patient varies with the state of the ED, including the time-varying workloads of the assigned nurse. A counterfactual simulation is used to estimate the gains from increasing nurse staff in the ED.

Results: We find that lightening a nurse's workload by one patient is associated with a 14% service speedup for every patient under the nurse's care. Simulation studies suggest that adding one more nurse to the busiest 12-hour shift of each day can shorten stays and avert $160,000 in lost patient wages per 10,000 visits. The reduction in service times also frees up capacity for treating more patients and generate $470,000 in additional net revenues for the hospital per 10,000 visits. Extensive sensitivity analyses suggest that our key message --investing in nursing will more than pay for itself -- is likely to hold across a wide range of EDs.

Managerial implications: In determining whether to invest in more nursing resources, hospital managers need to look beyond whether payer reimbursements alone are sufficient to cover the upfront costs, to also account for the resulting downstream benefits.

Keywords: healthcare management; healthcare operations; empirical operations; nurse shortage; emergency department; nurse workload; time-dependent survival analysis; service speed; productivity

JEL Classification: C41, I1, I10, J20, J30, J38

Suggested Citation

Ding, Hao and Tushe, Sokol and KC, Diwas Singh and Lee, Donald K.K. and Lee, Donald K.K., Frontiers in Operations: Valuing nursing productivity in emergency departments (April 1, 2024). M&SOM Journal (doi.org/10.1287/msom.2023.0039), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4780858

Hao Ding

Goizueta Business School, Emory University ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

Sokol Tushe

University of South Florida - Muma College of Business ( email )

Tampa, FL 33620
United States

Diwas Singh KC

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

Donald K.K. Lee (Contact Author)

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

Emory University - Dept of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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