March 25, 2019

3 Best Practices for Hospitalist Scheduling

3 min read

Written by: Ben Jenkins  |  Share:

Accommodating physicians and ensuring scheduling requirements are being met benefits the hospital, physicians, and patients

Hospitalists must follow a schedule that provides continuity of care, while also ensuring their professional and personal needs are being met.

Automated scheduling systems are able to incorporate rules and requests to create the best schedule for both the physicians and the hospital.

 

Ensure Your Physicians Are Working the Correct Number of Contracted Shifts

Hospitalists often operate on a different type of schedule than other disciplines within the hospital. A common scenario is that hospitalists will be scheduled for seven days on and seven days off. If you need another physician to cover your week, you are trending in the wrong direction of days you need to work. To combat that, you would need to cover a different week in return for the week you took off. This leaves you and your covering physician having to work fourteen straight days and having 14 days off.

This can also become unfair if you have a few physicians who are always getting weeks covered or always covering weeks for their colleagues. You would then have a physician who worked 140 days out of the year and a physician who worked 200 who are both getting paid the same. Complicated right?

With an automated scheduling solution, you can more efficiently track how all of your physicians are trending; you’ll be able to view monthly and yearly data. You can also see which physicians are trading shifts so you can ensure that there is an equal trade taking place.

This allows you to correct any discrepancies before the end of the year and ensure each of your physicians are meeting their contracted clinical commitments.

 

Divide the Type of Hospital Work Fairly

Hospitalists are scheduled in one area of the hospital for a small block of time to provide continuity of care to patients. So, although every physician is working the same number of days, some work is harder or more stressful than in other areas of the hospital.

An automated scheduling system will take into account where each physician is capable of working, based on qualifications, and where they were scheduled in previous weeks. This helps prevent physicians from being scheduled in particularly stressful areas of the hospital every week, which in turn helps reduce physician burnout.

Data and reports from an automated scheduling system will help you make necessary manual changes to the schedule as well. You can see that Physician A worked in Wing X, Physician B worked in Wing Y, and Physician C worked in Wing Z. Based on that data, you can make informed decisions on which physicians should be shifted if a physician is out.

 

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Provide Continuity of Care Through Provider Preferences

By considering provider preferences within your automated scheduling system’s rules engine, your schedules will be more likely to work for your physicians and will become more consistent over time. Hospitals take different levels of preferences into consideration when creating schedules. They will try to meet as many requests as possible while still meeting the needs of the hospital.

Most common provider preferences:

  • What days of the week they would like to work and have off
  • How many days in a row they would like to work (minimums and maximums)
  • Areas or wings of the hospital they would like to work

One scheduling requirement that is consistent across hospitals, is that physicians need to work several days in a row. This provides continuity of care for patients, which can be comforting for those who need to stay overnight or for an extended period.

Accommodating physician needs creates a flexible work environment, ensuring providers are operating at peak performance during their shifts.

 

Summary

Hospitalist scheduling can become difficult when tracking how your physicians are trading shifts and ensuring that they’re reaching their contracted number of hours. An automated scheduling system will help combat these difficulties by tracking how hours are being shifted, who is trading shifts, and what kind of work each physician is doing. Using your scheduling system and the data it produces will help produce consistent and fair schedules while creating continuity of care for patients.

 

Topics: Physician Scheduling