To ensure transparency and fairness in call schedules, it is necessary to monitor both stress points and call distribution.
As with staff utilization measures, the following analytics are easy to calculate, but large practices will find they save considerable time by using scheduling software.
In order to calculate stress points for call shifts, your practice will need:
• A list of all call shifts
• A list of all providers
• Current call schedule for each provider
For each call shift, Stress Points must be assigned. These are an arbitrary number chosen by your practice to represent the degree of stress believed to be associated with that shift. For instance, a designation of 10 points could be assigned to the high-stress weekend call shift. A designation of 3 points could be assigned to week night call.
If some call shifts are worked from home, while others require an overnight in the hospital, stress points should be assigned accordingly.
Next, a Target Number of Stress Points needs to be chosen for each provider. This number should be for an entire scheduling period and should reflect whether the provider works call full-time or part-time.
For each provider, assign the appropriate Stress Points to every call shift they are working in the current schedule. Total the points.
The following example presents data from Ling’s* department, where schedule complaints were pervasive:
For each provider, calculate the following:
Stress Rank = Total Stress Points / Target Number
In the above example, Isabella is slightly below targeted stress level, which means she would be a good provider to assign a higher stress call. Reyansh is over his targeted stress level, so he would be a good candidate for a low stress shift. Tomás, who is not contracted for weekend call has a lower Target Number. His Stress Rank shows he is exactly on target.
By monitoring stress levels, practice managers can:
• Ensure stressful assignments are fairly distributed.
• Provide transparency in how stressful shifts are assigned.
• Assign high-stress calls to providers seeking additional incentive pay.
Stress is not the only aspect of call schedules that can result in complaints. Grumbles of unfairness are also heard regarding the sheer number of call shifts providers may be asked to work.
To monitor call distribution throughout a scheduling period, practices should collect the following data for each provider:
• Number of call shifts already worked
• Number of call shifts scheduled to be worked
Due to the changes brought about by shift swaps and requests for time off, this information is most effective if presented in real-time.
With this information, practices can determine whether:
• Providers are working comparable amounts of call.
• Imbalances in call distribution will even out by end of the scheduling period.
*Names, situations, and example data presented throughout this post are meant to serve as fictional examples only. They have been created as composites representing common situations, but do not reflect specific individuals or organizations.
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