Is Magnet Status Worth the Cost?

Becoming a Magnet hospital brings the highest level of recognition to a hospital’s nursing services, but it requires significant investment in developing a well-structured nursing department. A recent study indicates that pursuing Magnet designation is worth all that it costs and then some.

What Magnet Means

Achieving Magnet status is a serious endeavor. Magnet hospitals must be accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which grants this designation in recognition of nursing excellence and high quality patient care. The process requires organizations to develop, disseminate, and enculturate evidence-based criteria that result in a positive work environment with improved patient outcomes. On average, the process of attaining Magnet status takes 4.25 years to complete with an average total investment of $2,125,000. Because of the serious investment and commitment of resources that are required, the decision to pursue Magnet designation calls for the full support of the organization’s leadership team and board of directors. Thus far, fewer than 400 hospitals in the U.S. have attained Magnet status.

Return on Investment

Research is proving that Magnet hospitals score higher in nurse job satisfaction (attributed to increased autonomy, structural empowerment, and a positive work environment) and thus demonstrate lower RN turnover and vacancy rates. These hospitals also demonstrate improved clinical outcomes and higher patient satisfaction scores than non-Magnet hospitals. Until recently, however, the notion that Magnet hospitals could earn increased revenues was only an opinion. Now, a study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative, maintains that achieving Magnet status not only pays for itself but actually increases hospital revenue. According to the research team, net patient revenue increased by 3.89 percent on average at Magnet hospitals while costs increased by only 2.46 percent. For hospitals in this study, achieving Magnet status resulted in an increase in revenue of $1,229,770 to $1,263,926 annually.

A Wealth of Benefits

Magnet status yields a long list of benefits related to improved quality of care and nurse job satisfaction. Most of these benefits have a direct relationship to lower costs. Earlier studies have found Magnet hospitals to have shorter lengths of stay and improved patient outcomes and that the culture of safety that is inherent in Magnet hospitals significantly contributed to patient safety. Other studies have shown a compelling association between Magnet status and significantly improved mortality rates 30 days from admission. Many of these benefits translate to lower operational costs for Magnet hospitals. For example:

  • A decrease in the incidence of pressure ulcers and falls has been associated with gaining Magnet status. Several studies have shown that hospitalized patients with hip fractures were less likely to develop pressure ulcers in a Magnet hospital with an average cost-savings of $43,180 per case. Evidence also points to a lower rate of patient falls in Magnet hospitals. One study estimated the cost per hospitalization for patient falls at $33,894. Magnet hospitals have a reported 10.3% lower fall rate.
  • Nurse safety is significantly improved at Magnet hospitals. Several studies have demonstrated up to a one-third reduction in needlestick injuries in Magnet facilities at a cost of $405 per incident. Occupational health injuries for musculoskeletal injuries and blood and body fluid exposures are also lower in hospitals with Magnet status. Costs per musculoskeletal injury can range from $50,000 to $100,000 per injury per nurse.
  • Magnet hospitals are in a better position to recruit and retain nurses, most likely because of a better work environment, shared governance structures, and nursing services support that are necessary to meet Magnet criteria. As a result, they have lower vacancy and turnover rates. Turnover costs range between 0.75 and 2.0 times the salary of the departing RN.

Magnet Attraction

Other benefits that accompany Magnet status may be more difficult to quantify in dollars and cents, but they do boost the hospital’s reputation which, in turn, can increase revenues. Having the hospital’s nursing department listed in the top 6% in the nation attracts health care professionals and consumers alike. Attaining Magnet status also offers marketing opportunities. Being able to apply the Magnet logo to ads, publications, and presentations tells the world that the facility is one of the best. There’s also the ability to list Magnet designation in bond ratings and risk management assessments and being among those listed in U.S. News and World Report as a national best hospital. It all adds up to a powerful case that shows the benefits of Magnet status can translate to improved operational costs and facility reputation.

Magnet and Nurse Certification

Healthcare organizations that employ certified nurses are often recognized as providing safe, competent patient care and are better able to meet the professional development requirements mandated by Magnet status. Elsevier offers many online courses and mobile applications that provide healthcare organizations with targeted eLearning solutions to help nurses prepare for certification exams, such as Certification in Emergency Nursing (CEN®), Certification in Pediatric Emergency Nursing (CPEN®), and Certification in Critical Care Nursing (CCRN®). Mobile apps are available for the iPhone and Android phones as well through the Apple App Store and Google Play. For more information about Mosby eLearning resources, click here.

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