Why Physician Scheduling Software Is Critical for Providers

Why Physician Scheduling Software Is Critical for Providers

Work Smarter, Not Harder with a Physician Scheduling Software Solution

What is physician scheduling software?

Physician work-life balance and effective physician call scheduling can both be accomplished by one tool: physician scheduling software. Health systems used to make a weekly or monthly schedule by hand, meaning an employee had to dedicate time and energy to figuring out how to put the on-call schedule puzzle pieces together. He or she would have to make sure not to overschedule some doctors while underutilizing others. Additionally, there had to be a system in place for any changes or requests. This “system” could include verbal, texted, or emailed requests from doctors requesting time off. Mistakes are common using this system [1]. 

While technology has improved many facets of the healthcare system, it has also changed how we schedule doctors. Now, it’s possible to use dedicated physician scheduling software to automatically schedule doctors such that better work-life balance is achieved, sufficient doctors are scheduled, and calendars can be automatically distributed. 

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What are the problems associated with physician scheduling?

Manual scheduling can lead to several unfortunate consequences, including:

  • Scrambling and stress due to mistakes as you try to fill gaps last-minute
  • Uncertainty if the schedule isn’t ready on time 
  • Confusion if multiple copies need to be generated due to changes. Which schedule is the right one? Is the method of distribution a printed-out or electronic spreadsheet?
  • Physician burnout if problems in the hospital or healthcare system are chronic. 50% or more of American physicians are burned out—a figure calculated before the COVID-19 pandemic [2]. If a hospital administrator can’t figure out a schedule, is this a sign of deeper and more serious inefficiencies? Poor leadership is associated with physician burnout, an incredibly expensive problem in the healthcare field [2].
  • Poor patient care if hospitals are understaffed or if the wrong assortment of doctors is scheduled. Are four OB/GYNs accidentally scheduled instead of one OB/GYN, one cardiologist, one radiologist, and one neurologist? Physician burnout related to dissatisfaction also contributes to poor patient care.
  • Physician turnover takes place when physicians don’t feel adequately supported or when they don’t feel the workplace is a good fit. Scheduling mishaps have a direct impact on physician well being and sense of belonging. Similarly, a physician who feels slighted by getting less than ideal shifts when compared to his or her colleagues will not feel included or adequately considered.

Poor physician scheduling in a hospital or healthcare system can have serious consequences when it comes to retaining physicians and providing patients with high-quality and consistent care. An automated physician scheduling software tool may be the answer.

Automated physician scheduling leads to improved efficiency and simplicity. Some of these benefits include: Benefits of a physician scheduling software tool

 

  • Integration with EHRs allows you to check if a patient will be affected by granting vacation requests to a specific doctor.
  • Time-off requests are integrated into the system, making it possible and easy to request time off for holidays and vacations.
  • Doctor availability and schedule control allows you to block, freeze, or reschedule a physician’s appointments when time off is approved.
  • A cloud-based system means doctors can securely access their schedule anytime. They don’t have to physically be at a specific location within the healthcare facility to access the next week’s schedule.
  • Mobile-friendly software means that doctors can request time off directly from their mobile device. In one study, the implementation of a mobile physician scheduling application led to satisfaction levels rising to 96% [1].
  • Scheduling fairness means one doctor’s schedule isn’t prioritized over another’s (intentionally or unintentionally). Automated on-call software makes it possible to tally days off and holidays for each doctor.
  • Multiple departments using the same system streamlines the process and means you can ensure the facility will always be fully staffed with the right mix of physicians. 
  • Hours saved and reduced costs as physician scheduling is done automatically. Scheduling via Excel and then uploading the physician schedule to an online platform can take around 800 hours per year. Switching to a physician scheduling software reduces time spent scheduling [3]. In addition, many hospital systems don’t have a dedicated scheduler or method of calculating scheduling time. Instead, scheduling is piled onto an administrator’s or doctor’s already substantial workload.
  • Easy changes and swaps enable physicians to request adjustments to their schedules with less work spent figuring out if and how a swap is possible. This is especially important during emergencies, holidays, or other times when healthcare systems face staff shortages. 
  • Long-term planning means you can generate months of schedules to allow for any changes and adjustments well in advance. Thirty seconds is all it takes to generate 12 months of physician on-call schedules. This means physicians can negotiate any holiday time off well in advance. 
  • HIPAA-compliant software ensures your organization is protected even when using convenient mobile applications. Privacy and HIPAA compliance should always be a priority and a certainty. 
  • Reminders. Scheduling automated notifications, time-off, and sick day requests in a single app means less confusion and better patient care. You can also contact on-call physicians via voice, video, or text features.
  • Scalability. You need to think about the future. If your organization scales up, so must your physician scheduling app.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many hospital pain points – scheduling among them. An automated on-call scheduling tool can help. It may take time for you and the physicians in your hospital to adapt to this new system, so make sure you’ve considered your needs and have set aside training time when you adopt a new system. It may take between two and four months to determine if a new program is a good choice for your medical staff scheduling software needs. Make sure you consider your options and choose the physician scheduling tool that meets your needs and integrates with existing systems.

Adopting a physician scheduling software solution

Thanks to great dedication, many schedulers have made Excel and sticky note reminders “work” at their organizations, so it can be difficult to change. But once they consider the amount of time and stress that can be reduced, as well as the need for scalability in ever-changing environments, the advantages of an automated software tool become clear

Using healthcare scheduling software, such as TigerConnect Physician Scheduling, will streamline your physician on-call scheduling. One software platform is used for all scheduling needs—from making and accepting time-off requests to distributing schedules to staff via mobile devices. You’ll also ensure coverage with the right doctors and specialists, help your doctors maintain a work-life balance, and contribute to a sense of fairness in the workplace.

Request a demo of TigerConnect Physician Scheduling to see how physician scheduling software can save you time, money, avoidable scheduling mistakes, and preventable physician burnout.

 

References

  1. Deliberato RO, Rocha LL, Lima AH, et al. Physician satisfaction with a multi-platform digital scheduling system. Amaral LAN, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(3):e0174127. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174127
  2. Shanafelt TD, Noseworthy JH. Executive Leadership and Physician Well-being. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2017;92(1):129-146. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.10.004
  3. Arnett A, Bottner M, Campbell J, Funk A, Roberds L. Analysis of implementing a scheduling software in a hospitalist department. University of Washington. Retrieved from: https://ise.washington.edu/files/students/seniorprojects/17schsm.pdf.

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