Summertime is a wonderful time of year - kids are out of school, family vacations, weekends away at the beach or the lake with friends. This can amount to a great time had by all. 

But in certain professions taking time off to enjoy the summer fun can be challenging and met with frustration. Take physicians for example. Caring for patients can be mentally challenging and then add to that managing their staff and call schedules.  Finding the right physician coverage while taking time off can be challenging if the right systems aren’t in place. They may think - will I be able to find someone to cover my call shift?  Will my absence leave a subspecialty uncovered? Is it even worth the effort to try and find someone to cover?  

The good news is that automated physician scheduling technology can help with this and many other scheduling challenges. By providing physicians the ability to swap shifts, request vacation, and view their schedules anytime, anywhere they feel more in control of their schedule. Enabling them to easily request time when the situation arises and to act quickly to find coverage when desired – allowing them to have a better work/life balance – ultimately improves engagement and reduces burnout.

The benefits don’t just stop with the physicians - they can help their families as well. The ability to share their schedules and add them to their calendar allows their families to plan and be up-to-date on their latest schedule.

Since more and more physicians are becoming employed by hospitals, automated physician scheduling is a must. How else would organizations ensure they have the right coverage across the enterprise? They need to ensure they have the most up-to-date call schedule for each department. If a provider swapped their call shift with another provider how is that communicated throughout the organization? With an enterprise-wide physician scheduling system, departments can manage their own group’s schedules and then those schedules are consolidated into a real-time view of who is on call across the enterprise.  This provides a single source of truth for the entire organization, including the ER, ICU and hospital operators. 

In talking about the summer for physicians I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the influx of residents to hospitals across the country at the beginning of July. With these new residents comes another whole set of scheduling complexities. Managing rotation schedules, and tracking training and accreditation requirements can be difficult when the right systems aren’t in place.

Technology helps save time creating and maintaining the schedule while ensuring appropriate physician and subspecialty coverage. If the organization has complex group rules, don’t worry, the automated solution uses a sophisticated scheduling algorithm to ensure all the rules are met. If you are using a vacation lottery, that can be done easily and quickly in the scheduling system. Clinicians can rank their top vacation picks and contingency picks and the system can get to work, ensuring a fair and easy way to grant vacation requests. All of this enables healthcare organizations to make fast, smart staffing decisions to ensure the right provider is in the right place at the right time — all the time.

What happens when a few physicians think they are not being treated fairly, they believe they are receiving more call shifts than their peers, or their time off requests are not being honored? That is another benefit to the scheduling technology. The system keeps track of all schedule changes, scheduled call shifts, trades, and time-stamped vacation requests so you can run reports when needed.  The ability to pull ad-hoc reports encourages full transparency across the physician group leading to increased morale. 

With the rate of burnout among physicians increasing, finding ways to alleviate their burdens is a top priority. By providing more control over their schedules, physicians can attain the work/life balance they are seeking while providing their organization with their exceptional talents and skills. With younger doctors entering the field the need for easy to access scheduling solutions will increase and having these systems in place may even help attract new providers to the organization.

In the end, summer absence can be difficult for organizations to manage but with the right systems in place, everyone can enjoy some time in the sun. 

Download this paper and learn how automating the physician call schedule can solve many administrative challenges for physicians and the hospital health system.


Published: Thursday, June 20, 2019