Paper was invented over 2,000 years ago. Microsoft Excel was invented 33 years ago. And yet, staff scheduling in healthcare has continued to be stuck in the dark ages. The decision to switch from pen, paper, and Excel to online doesn’t have to feel like a big leap. Here are a few simple considerations for you to factor in as you look to move from scheduling on trees to scheduling on pixels.
1. Get Staff Buy-In
Given the change that moving from paper to digital will have on your staff, it’s important you get everyone on board as early as possible. Invite staff members to join you when demoing new scheduling technologies and ask them for input and questions. Even better, if they’re already using digital scheduling tools to track their own schedule, see if there is a system that connects with it for an even more simple transition.
2. Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew
There are a lot of tools out there to help with scheduling, many of them packed to the brim with features. Premium pricing aside, too many features can become confusing and stressful for those using it. Figure out what your facility's needs are, then search for tools whose primary function fulfills these needs.
3. Consider Your Facility Structure
It seems like every facility in healthcare has a different setup. Do you operate with departments or wings? Do you have a float pool? Do people need to be able to work outside of their home wing or department? Are you a clinic with an 8-5 schedule, a department with a day and night shift, or an ER with a multitude of shift days and times? Not all technology can support your setup, so make that clear up front before the sales conversation moves on.
4. How Accessible Will the Schedule Be?
Your staff will love you for going digital with the schedule, but they may not be totally satisfied if that schedule is equally inaccessible. Some technology is only available on the intranet, usually meaning staff must be on the facility’s premises to view it. That’s not much better than posting the schedule in the breakroom. Apps are much easier for staff to operate, even for the less tech-savvy folks. Is the technology online and cloud-based or does it have to be installed? The latter is the most modern and efficient, helping you avoid annoying installs and time-consuming updates.
5. Does the Tool Have a Mobile App?
Many scheduling technologies claim that they are “mobile friendly” for the convenience of staff. However, often times this just means that the schedule can be viewed on a mobile responsive website through the phone’s browser, rather than an app on the phone. An app can pack a lot more functionality into it and be much easier to navigate. This becomes increasingly important for those on your staff who are more resistant to new technology. Lastly, many companies will claim they have “mobile alerts” which are merely text messages. These text messages can get lost in the midst of personal text messages on people’s phones. A quality app will send push notifications, stored inside the app for quick, clear, and professional access. There is no substituting a good quality app when it comes to scheduling.
First and foremost, make a confident decision to implement a scheduling solution that reduces management’s workload and delights your staff. Then, research and sample viable options to confirm it will fit the needs of your hospital or facility, is easy to use, and lacks confusing features and excessive costs. Be prepared with these questions and considerations as you begin your search for the perfect technology to meet your digital scheduling needs!