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Five challenges of ER physician scheduling

Posted on 10/1/2014 by Elizabeth in category: scheduling software articles
Busy emergency rooms today face a wide range of challenges. Chief among those challenges is the tall order of ER physician scheduling.

With that in mind, it’s important to find a way to balance the needs of the emergency room and its patients with the needs of the physicians who are so central to the effective operation of a successful emergency department.

Consider these five shift scheduling challenges you must address in order to maximize the production and profitability of your emergency facility.

1) Avoiding or Dealing With Physician Burnout

Emergency medicine is at times quite a challenge. The pace can be erratic, and the very nature of emergency medicine is a pressure cooker.

Over time, even the best of physicians run the risk of substantial burnout. Especially when their emergency medicine scheduling involves long hours, overtime, double shifts, and a poor work-life balance.

2) Equitable Work and On-Call Schedules

The best way to provide equitable scheduling for your ER physicians is to prioritize physician scheduling in a way that provides adequate rotation of shifts, hours, holidays, weekends, and on-call responsibilities.

It’s especially important to ensure that the same physicians aren’t landing in the rotation for every holiday work or on-call shift. There must be balance. Shift scheduling software helps to provide this balance by keeping records of previous on-call and holiday shifts, and scheduling accordingly.

3) Last-Minute Requests and Schedule Changes

For anyone who has gone through the process of planning emergency medicine scheduling for a month only to discover that part of that month has to be completely reworked due to last-minute requests or changes, you know what a blow this can be to all the careful work to avoid overtime or shift coverage gaps.

Software for shift scheduling can do this for you with a few computer keystrokes, without the pain, hassle, wailing, or gnashing of teeth involved in manual schedule changes.

4) Rise in Emergency Room Wait Times

The main reason for this unprecedented increase in emergency room wait times is the increasing number of people who turn to emergency facilities instead of primary care physicians.

One way to reduce the wait times and make schedules run more effectively for all parties is to consider allowing patients to schedule nonemergency visits. This lets you prioritize demand and allows them to set up a specific time so that they aren’t sitting in the waiting room for hours at a time waiting to be seen.

5) The Time-Consuming Nature of the Process

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for physician scheduling is the amount of time it takes to create, tweak, and perfect the schedule. Then there are the inevitable revisits to deal with on-call needs, call-out needs, and scheduling calamities.

Doing it by hand takes hours upon hours – if not days or weeks. This is time that could be much better spent dealing with other administrative duties and that would be freed up to do just that if you opted to use scheduling software instead.

Turning to scheduling software for busy ERs will not solve all the problems, but it will certainly take a big bite out of these five.

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