Scheduling Strategies: Turning Information into Action

Scheduling Strategies: Turning Information into Action with ShiftWizard

November 9, 2022
November 9, 2022

This blog is from a recent webinar, “Scheduling Strategies: Turning Information Into Action.” The webinar was moderated by Sarah Enders, Senior Product Marketing Manager, and featured presenters Terri Epler, RN, Solution Consultant Manager and Sloane Johnson, RN, Solution Executive.

In a rapidly changing industry, staffing challenges have been constant. Not only does this leave healthcare leaders overwhelmed and concerned, but it creates a feeling of disconnect between leadership and staff. As a manager, it’s daunting to continually ask nurses to work more shifts, manage a budget, and create a diverse, fair schedule.

“Scheduling is a core function of the health system, scheduling is complex, but it shouldn't have to be difficult,” said Sloane Johnson, RN, Solution Executive, during a recent webinar about creating a transparent, effective schedule using tangible, actionable information.

The Old Way – It Just Doesn’t Work Anymore

Whether your unit is still using the old-school method of pen and paper or has moved on to mass texts or Facebook groups, these processes have some serious issues, including:

  • Pen and paper systems are labor-intensive and too de-centralized to allow for maximum efficiency and collaboration across the entire enterprise.
  • Manual calculations on metrics such as overtime, bonuses, and available shifts can be inaccurate and cumbersome to share.
  • Open shifts are more likely to remain open or filled with more-expensive agency nurses.
  • It is challenging to make nursing staff aware of shifts for which they might be available.
  • Reporting for leadership on staffing metrics is complicated by the lack of easily accessible and reliable data.
  • With texts or Facebook groups, communication can get muddled or lost.
  • There’s message fatigue as staff receives notifications that do not pertain to them.
  • These systems are prone to human error.
  • Work-life balance can be disrupted, leading to frustrations and burnout.

With these issues in mind, the webinar outlined a new way of scheduling that not only removed many of these obstacles but created a more favorable work environment.

“Scheduling also has a downstream effect from patient safety and patient outcomes, burnout, nursing shortages, agency spend, and last but not least, nurse retention,” said Johnson.

The New Way – ShiftWizard

After outlining some of the challenges facing managers, leadership, and nurses, including the overall implications like wasted resources and unnecessary spending, Terri Epler, RN, Solution Consultant Manager outlined the three main ways ShiftWizard™, a HealthStream™ scheduling solution, empowered her and her team. From leadership to staff, ShiftWizard helped utilize vital information, create better communication, and elevate staff satisfaction.

Epler shared three of ShiftWizard’s key features.

  1. Staff Empowerment: ShiftWizard allows nurses to take control of their schedules, through an easy-to-use mobile app. ShiftWizard empowers teams with self-scheduling and swap functions. During Epler’s demonstration of the ShiftWizard features, she shared the mobile app, which is a straightforward way to notify staff of open shifts. Nurses can also use the app to request PTO and leaders can verify an employee’s available PTO balance and approve or deny those requests, all within the app.

    Nurses can also use the app to:
  • Swap shifts
  • Give up a shift
  • Open a request to swap with one nurse, a group, or unit
  • View PTO bank
  • Request PTO
  • Pick up shifts

    While the features empower nurses, nurse leaders can still use ShiftWizard to ensure that units and departments are safely staffed. In addition, Epler shared that safeguards around the American Nurses Association (ANA) fatigue rules, licensure, and certifications may all be built into ShiftWizard.

    “Essentially, any information housed in Human Resources can be shared with ShiftWizard to ensure safe staffing – a critical feature when leaders need to be sure that they have the right mix of experience on a shift,” shared Epler.

    1. Communication Center: While scheduling is a crucial function of ShiftWizard, Epler shared that it is the communication function that users seem to appreciate the most. ShiftWizard’s communication center has a range of features that allow leaders to send messages about certifications, policies, or any other topic.

      In addition, messages can be filtered and targeted to specific groups to reduce communication fatigue.

      There are multiple ways in which messages can be shared. For example, messages can be emailed, voice-mailed, or texted. And if an electronic signature is required, the communication feature can capture that as well. ShiftWizard can also provide reporting that will provide information on when messages were sent, who viewed those messages, when they were opened, and whether they were acknowledged.

    2. Ease of Use: ShiftWizard was designed by those in the healthcare industry who know firsthand the unique needs and nuances of staff scheduling.

    By integrating your EMR, HR, and Timekeeper systems, ShiftWizard can quickly and clearly show historical, real-time, and project productivity calculations based on your department's needs.

    From inside the app, your team can quickly and easily see what shifts they’re working and who they’re working with; request PTO or swap shifts; self-schedule, and easily message managers or team members. And with easy-to-use icons, your staff can update managers on if they’re available, sick, or not open to calls, helping you to create better work-life balance and job satisfaction.
    “Complicated features and functionality are a requirement today, but not at the expense of ease of use. For example, rules-based guidance and intuitive navigation help managers make informed decisions,” said Johnson.

    Reporting and Decision Support

    ShiftWizard was built to empower nurses and leaders, create better communication, and be user-friendly across the multigenerational staff.

    Another innovative feature that truly elevates ShiftWizard for healthcare leaders is that it provides next-level detailed reporting.

    By seamlessly integrating with your facility's EMR and other systems, ShiftWizard can create near-real-time dashboards displaying information on staffing, patient acuity, census, and other vital metrics. Just like the other features in ShiftWizard, these dashboards can be personalized and tailored to your department's unique needs. It’s simple and easy for users to build a variety of staffing reports, such as productivity reports, patient acuity reports, overtime reports, predictive census reports, and custom reports.

    ShiftWizard is a comprehensive, customizable scheduling solution that can help your organization improve productivity, facilitate targeted communication, and provide reporting to help leaders better manage staffing.

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