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The challenges of hospitalist scheduling and overcoming them

Posted on 3/17/2014 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
Arguably, the most frustrating, convoluted, and time consuming task for for any hospitalist scheduler is trying to find the right balance among hospital requirements, patient needs, and the scheduling preferences and health of the hospitalist. Designing a schedule that meets all of these goals and more is one of the most challenging parts of leading a hospitalist staff. These are some of the most common hospitalist scheduling challenges:

Hospitalist Scheduling Creation and Upkeep is Time Consuming

If done by hand, with an Excel spreadsheet, or some other template-based document, generating fair and equitable shift scheduling can take up to several days to get the mix right. As more physicians and responsibilities are added, combined with heavy workload and the need for 24/7 coverage, the more difficult the cheduling becomes. Adding the predictableness of emergency medicine scheduling, and the job is even more daunting.

Fair and Equitable Schedules Isn’t So Easy

Hospitalist scheduling involves many moving parts. For shift scheduling and block scheduling, there’s the need to spread out the assignments of least desirable shifts (such as night shifts, weekend shifts, and graveyard shifts) in addition taking into account hospitalist scheduling preferences, time-off requests, unexpected illnesses, and holiday and vacation requests. Throw in doctors on-site, on-call, or on-beeper, work intensity, work peaks and valleys, fair and equitable scheduling can be a nightmare to achieve.

Hospitalist Scheduling Changes are Inevitable

It’s been said that the only constant is change, and hospitalist scheduling is no different. Illness, new hospitalists joining the group, existing hospitalists exiting the group, work demand changes, are all “events” that require a new schedule to be generated. Quite frequently, just one small change in workload or with a particular hospitalist can have a huge impact on the overall hospitalist schedule.

Optimal Specialty Coverage Is Essential

When a hospital group consists of a number hospitalist specialists that are not easily exchangeable, then identifying appropriate speciality coverage is another important factor that must be factored into the scheduling equation. When judgment issues, actions errors, and life and death implications are far too real, optimal speciality coverage is vital.

Overcoming the Challenges of Hospitalist Scheduling with Scheduling Software

Just as the duties of a hospitalist vary in terms of patient care, teaching duties, or administrative responsibilities, hospitalists also practice in a variety of environments, including regional hospitals, academic medical centers, private group practices, and specialty groups, such as pediatrics or oncology. But regardless of setting that a hospitalist practices in, there are unique circumstances that pose challenges for hospitalist scheduling.

Whether your hospitalist group or department uses shift scheduling, block scheduling, 24/7 on call scheduling, seven days on and seven days off, or some other hybrid schedule, hospitalist scheduling software provides the platform for time saving and equitable scheduling. Through ease of use, automation, web-based access, communication, and reporting features, hospitalist scheduling software helps provide for a better hospitalist’s personal and professional life balance, while improving the quality of hospital medicine and patient care simultaneously.

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