Time360 - Scheduling Blog

Hospital Staffing vs. Quality of Care

Research has shown that hospitals with low staffing levels compared to industry standards have poorer outcomes (ahrq.gov). You are probably asking yourself - if there is a correlation between staffing levels and patient outcomes why wouldn't hospitals staff accordingly? A couple of key factors are at work:

  • Nurse shortage
  • Scheduling complications that arise from having more staff members
There are simply more baby boomers reaching an older age than there are nurses graduating nursing school. While the bureau of labor statistics indicates that nursing is one of the fastest growing professions, the demand is greater than the supply and likely will be for many years to come. Many existing nurses are leaving the profession as stress levels rise from the excessive workloads.

How can we solve the problem facing our country's medical system? Recruiting, training, education, and better decisions by our government leaders is a good place to start. Supplement those things with software intelligence and you have a real shot at turning things around.

Existing nurses are under immense pressure to ensure positive patient outcomes. Why not lower their stress levels by choosing a scheduling platform that allows them to participate in the scheduling process by claiming available shifts and providing them with real-time updates via text/email as schedules change? Improve patient outcomes by assigning the right nursing resource at the right time. Protect your workforce (and your budget) against working too many hours using overtime protection intelligence. 

Time 360, our staff scheduling solution, has these features and many more. Please sign up for a trial account today to see for yourself just how easy it is to improve productivity, guard against burnout, and increase staff satisfaction.

-The Time 360 Team

7 Steps to Make Staff Scheduling Easy.

Every business manager has to be concerned with scheduling staff. An organization without an effective scheduling process can create tension among employees. Some schedulers have dedicated days or weeks developing and publishing employee schedules.

To make matters worse, the manager in charge of scheduling has to wade through availability information, time off/PTO, and other large spreadsheets to develop a first draft. Then comes the backlash of complaints from the employees and necessary revisions. A well managed scheduling process resolves many of these issues and improves employee morale. Let's take a look at 7 ways to make this process better.

1. Know your team
Before you can get started scheduling, you must know your employees and their roles. Gathering contact information, usual work locations, part-time or full-time, and overtime restrictions will make it much easier to get them on the schedule for days and times that are mutually acceptable.

2. Understand Staff Availability
Having information regarding their part-time, full-time and overtime restrictions are only the first part of being able to place someone on the schedule. A staffing manager must also know when an employee has requested for time off(PTO). They must also account for employee preferences. Not taking these into account will cause a lot of back and forth between the staff and the staffing manager while the staffing manager attempts to complete the schedule with trial and error. It is much more efficient to have that information on the front end.

3. Understand Business Needs
Knowing when your business will have peak times which will need more resources is critical to ensure you have adequate staff coverage without over-staffing. Over-staffing can be very expensive and has some of the same employee morale issues as under-staffing.

4. Plan for Emergencies
Even the best schedule can leave you understaffed in an emergency. When you design the work schedule, keep in mind what will happen if you get slammed.

5. Schedule the Right Person
By using your employee list, you can make sure that you are scheduling staff with the right skills or certifications.

6. Staff access to the schedule
Having a well designed schedule does not matter if the employees do not have access to the up-to-date schedule to know when they are working. You could print it out and post it on a bulletin board but that will quickly get out-dated and require the scheduling manager to constantly be printing updated calendars. You could email a spreadsheet and hope the employees keep up with it; however, with modern technology, we can do much better. According to PEW Research in October 2014 64% of adult Americans own a smartphone. Give them access to their schedule on their phone, and they will always have it with them.

7. Use the right tools
Paper and Spreadsheets are great for quick and dirty schedules; however, as schedules get more complex they become a liability. Using a specially designed tool for scheduling addresses all of the issues listed.

Time360 was built to put the right information at your fingertips and make the process of scheduling simple. Employees use smartphones to access their schedule from anywhere. Find out how you can improve your scheduling process with Time360 today.

Physician Struggles with Scheduling

I know of a physician who manages staffing for a hospitalist program. He works with fifteen physicians in the program and schedules three months at a time. Physicians are professionals and do not like to be told when they are on the schedule, instead they prefer to participate in the process. 

Studies have shown that providing a choice in scheduling shifts greatly improves the morale of the employees. 

He catches them in the hallway or in break rooms. He always has a crinkled, hand written calendar in his hand. The other doctors know he is trying to finalize the schedule, but they don't want to volunteer. They avoid him, change the subject, tell him they will get back to him after they confirm their plans.

The deadline to turn in the schedule was yesterday and the ER Director is calling him. You can see his frustration growing because he still doesn't have next weekend filled. "Why can't they tell me when they want to work? We all have to work when we don't want to sometimes."

Friday is a holiday and no one will commit to covering the shifts. He had plans to take a trip with his family and he's already had the last three weekends. Reluctantly and with no other choice, he pencils his name next to Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  

The ER Director needs that schedule. He makes a copy and leaves it at the ER Check-in desk. He spent the last three weeks hunting people down and getting them to commit, someone else can type it up.

You may think the struggle is over for this quarter but, schedules are not static. People request changes everyday. The person who said they would take 11th has a change in plans and needs someone to take his shift. He says he will trade with anyone.

"Whose working the 12th? We have to call the ER since my paper copy might have changed."

Does this sound familiar?

Why is scheduling staff for shifts they are contracted to perform so difficult? 

This is the problem, Time360 has solved!

  • Schedule staff in record time with a powerful drag and drop interface.
  • Instant access to the most up-to-date calendar.
  • Make changes on the fly with automatic notifications. 

Have multiple locations or departments? No problem. See your resource's availability to reduce scheduling conflicts. 

There is a way to get your life back. 

Try it out for free Get Started!