Scheduling Solutions for Anesthesia Departments
Learn how simple, fast and accurate physician scheduling can improve anesthesiology for staff and patients.
Staff scheduling at anesthesiology departments is often a complex task that can ultimately complicate care for patients and add unwanted stress on staff and physicians. An anesthesiology department consists of specialized physicians, CRNAs, fellows, and residents, who are needed at a variety of facilities and have intense demands on their time. Between changing locations, rules that limit an anesthesiologist from working a specific assignment, time-off requests and shift swaps, the job of an anesthesia scheduler is challenging. What’s more, manual scheduling systems cost hours of time and are liable to cause scheduling errors, which affect both providers and patients.
Smart Scheduling Controls Costs
“Your anesthesia department may be overstaffed or understaffed. In the end, optimizing the caseload in each Operating Room may be the best way to control the costs of your anesthesia care team.”
Bobby Johnson, DPI Inc., Anesthesia Staffing Company
The OR generates as much as 60 percent of hospital revenues, but when procedures are cancelled or delayed, it cuts into that revenue. The anesthesiology department is uniquely positioned to help improve communication, thus impacting cost and increasing efficiency. By utilizing the flexible and convenient features in scheduling software, anesthesia schedulers can improve both pre- and post-operative care and reduce turnover time.
Plan for the expected and unexpected.
Smart scheduling begins with careful planning. Preparing for the worst can prevent empty operating rooms, patient dissatisfaction, and lost revenues for hospitals. Scheduling software is built for responsiveness with features like mobile access and real-time alerts that automatically send schedule change notifications to the correct staff members so they can better keep track of shifts and be agile in the face of scheduling changes.
It’s common for hospitals to schedule all surgeries at the same time. For instance, all ORs could be booked for 7:30 a.m. surgeries, leaving the rooms empty afterward. An empty OR is extremely inefficient; it fails to maximize the staff’s and surgeons’ time.
However, “Block Scheduling” with scheduling software consolidates operating room coverage into vertical blocks, and checks with surgeons to ensure that the time booked is enough time for the procedure, maximizes the use of the OR, and prevents patients and surgeons from waiting while another procedure finishes.
Improve Employee Satisfaction
The cost of medical staff turnover at a practice is estimated to be at $1.2 million annually.
Better schedules improves employee satisfaction as well and lowers frustration. It also improves clinical performance and increases retention.
When anesthesiology staff feel overworked or are juggling too many pressure-packed tasks, managing competing priorities can cause them to burn out. Using scheduling software creates fair work schedules that mitigate employee stress and decreases the risk of employee burnout and turnover.
Features for Your Staff
By fairly distributing physicians and staff across different roles, scheduling software helps anesthesiology departments achieve the quality in care they strive for.
When staff are equitably scheduled and given reminders that keep them aware of their next shift, they receive the rest and rejuvenation necessary to give their all to assigned shifts and can help create a culture of physician wellness.
Time Off Scheduling
Creating a vacation schedule can cause a headache for anesthesia schedulers. It requires knowledge of how many staff members are away each day, for how long, and who can cover for them. In a cross-functional group with various specialties like anesthesiology, this task becomes even more complicated. Flexible scheduling software allows everyone to view availability in real time, and see which areas within the organization have reached their limit for the number of people with the proper skills. This removes the surprises, errors, and frustration that often come with creating a vacation schedule that meets the needs of all staff.
Anesthesiology staff are responsible for helping patients feel cared for and in good hands during their time of need. When surgeons and staff are late, shifts are missed or the department is understaffed, it’s likely due to scheduling errors, and it’s patients who suffer the most.
Patients expect reasonable wait times, in terms of appointment availability and at office or operating room visits. They deserve clear communication from staff members and hands-on compassionate care during treatment. Understaffing and mis-scheduling reduces appointment options and draws out waiting-room times, which ultimately impacts your bottom line.
Scheduling software improves internal performance across the entire anesthesiology department and increases the level of care for your patients.
Key Patient Benefits
- Decreases wait times
- Improves patient documentation
- Increases access to patient information
- Better staff communication regarding patient needs
- Reduces errors
Flexible Scheduling Software – What Is It?
You may have already heard of scheduling software, but are unsure as to how it helps anesthesiology departments. In short, it helps anesthesia schedulers improve efficiency, increase employee satisfaction and reduce employee burnout, and among the many reasons for the growing popularity of scheduling software at anesthesiology departments is its role in reducing patient wait times and its wealth of interactive, real-time features that can outperform traditional scheduling methods.
Automated scheduling software works with an algorithm that automatically generates and schedules based on predetermined rules. The software’s accuracy and speed prevents human error and it saves precious time and resources.
Scheduling software can help anesthesia schedulers tackle several administrative and personnel tasks, including:
- Staff schedule management and notification
- Self-scheduling and shift-swapping
- Administrative approval and access
- Staff hours, overtime, and paid time off tracking
- Robust compliance maintenance
- Standard time-clocking
While traditional methods leave these administrative duties, HR responsibilities, and scheduling tasks to the risk of human error, scheduling software integrates tasks into one comprehensive system. As a result, organizations have a more streamlined solution that’s less prone to error.
Benefits for Anesthesia Schedulers
Scheduling software is easy for anesthesia schedulers to adopt. Its intuitive and interactive nature ensures anesthesia schedulers can carry out numerous complex roles and procedures, like notifying surgeons and staff about schedule changes and verifying that every procedure is always covered, so they can provide the highest level of care to their patients.
Scheduling software understands the unique role that anesthesiologists have within a healthcare organization. Anesthesiologist’s schedules are often dictated by the clinicians and group administrators they work with, which results in their time being a precious commodity. Not only do organizations need to create schedules that meet the needs of patients, but they also must take into account the health and work-life balance of anesthesiologists.
Key Highlights of Scheduling Software
- Save time
- Optimize shift schedules
- Ensure fair distribution of workload
- Convenient access to schedule change logs to ensure accuracy
- Track schedule fairness and equity
Radiology scheduling software is often just a fancy spreadsheet, but anesthesia schedulers need software that automates their scheduling based on predetermined rules. Rules-based software allows anesthesia schedulers to specify their clinical rules, specialty requirements, human resources policies and more, so that every schedule is built automatically and follows the rules of each practice. Rule-based scheduling software helps to block mistaken assignments, like when a staff member is scheduled in two places at once, or if a physician is scheduled when they are on planned or last-minute leave.
Here are examples of rules that can be programmed into scheduling software:
- If an anesthesiologist is the last to leave on Tuesday, then he/she is the first out on Wednesday.
- A minimum of two cardiac-skilled anesthesiologists must be scheduled per night.
- Track and equally distribute the total number of weekend calls, holiday weekend calls, holiday calls, and Thursday calls.
- At least 3 pain doctors must be available.
Staff want to discuss shift swaps and interact with each other on upcoming schedules. Self-scheduling features give staff control over some aspects of their schedules. And with a built-in admin view, self-scheduling ensures no changes are made without approval.
Today’s anesthesia schedulers need convenient access to their schedules at all times. Mobile scheduling ensures radiology schedulers and staff can view their schedule, submit requests and receive notifications on their phones.
Since anesthesiologists often work from a variety of locations, and on call, they need complete accessibility when it comes to their schedule. Mobile and tablet access is a critical feature to look for, especially software that can sync in real-time to a mobile calendar.