How to Improve Nurse Scheduling

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

To improve and sustain better clinical and business outcomes, healthcare organizations must improve their solutions for nurse scheduling. When working poorly and inefficiently, this essential operational task can have consequences, impacting nurses, nurse leaders, hospitals, and patients. Scheduling difficulties also can threaten nurses work satisfaction and lead to reductions in hospital revenue that result from too much overtime pay for the nursing staff.

What Are Some of the Characteristics of a Better Solution for Nurse Scheduling?

For nurse scheduling to work more successfully for nurses at a healthcare organization, there are some consistent features the solution must have. These include:

Nurse-friendly Operation That Encourages Widespread Adoption

Hospitals spend a lot of money and time to deliver healthcare technology to clinicians. Often, these solutions fail to include the end user during the development phase. A nurse scheduling solution needs to be one that nurses actually like to use and that works well for them. Now that we are all used to accessing things from the tip of our fingers, it is essential to build a mobile app that nurses want to use voluntarily.

Easy to Use for Managing Schedule

Optimal functionality means that nurses need to be able to manually enter weeks or months worth of shifts to their calendar in seconds, so that it becomes the day-to-day tool that they use to always know when they are working and where. This is especially important for nurses that either float across different units within a hospital or across different hospitals in a given geographic area. They need one place to look at the entirety of their schedules.

Total Visibility into Shift Staffing Making Swaps Easier

If nurses can see which colleagues that they are working with on any given shifts, that makes it very easy for them to initiate shift swap requests and trade shifts amongst themselves. What can be a very tedious and cumbersome process for nurses becomes that much easier. Automated notification to managers when a swap has been made and subsequent incorporation into the master schedule makes it that much more seamless.

A Scheduling Process Designed Especially for Nurses

Nurses definitely benefit from using an intuitive scheduling tool. For example, it's possible for some solutions to memorize your most common shifts and default to them for future scheduling. Then a nurse can simply just tap on all the calendar days that they are scheduled to work. Many standardized calendars and schedules are not overly conducive to nightshifts and shifts that span two calendar days. A solution built specifically by nurses, for nurses incorporates these specific nuances specific to nursing to enhance their value.

Easier Communications about Availability

Nurses like to be able to raise their hand and volunteer for shifts. An optimal system allows a nurse to easily communicate to a manager about a willingness to work if the organization finds itself to be short staffed.

This blog post continues a series based on the HealthStream Webinar, Fill Open Shifts Faster with Nurse-Centric Technology, which features leaders from HealthStream partner NurseGrid, an organization whose widely adopted nurse scheduling platform was inspired by the core belief that health care systems and providers must have the best tools in order to provide the most efficient and effective patient and nursing experience. Presenter Joe Novello, the Founder of NurseGrid, is a nurse who has worked in and around hospitals for more than 20 years as a clinician and a clinical operational leader. He was joined by Connor Whan, a healthcare entrepreneur who has been with NurseGrid for much of the organizations existence, who has led conversations with thousands of nurses and nurse leaders across the country, to ensure NurseGrid remains at the forefront of supporting nurses personally and professionally.

Learn about using NurseGrid to improve the nurse scheduling process.

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