The department leader of the Anesthesiology department has no easy task. Scheduling physicians in this complex, fast-paced environment requires more than traditional manual scheduling systems like Excel — it requires a robust Anesthesia scheduling software that can juggle the many specialized physicians and CRNAs who work in Anesthesiology, often at a variety of facilities and locations.
But not every scheduling software is the same. Some take longer to get up and running, and others may not be able to handle all the details of your on-call scheduling. Choosing the wrong software can waste time, money and effort — resources better spent on balancing your budget and optimizing your staffing strategies.
Before you jump into implementing a new scheduling software, there are a few things you need to think about to make sure your implementation is as successful, cost-effective and efficient as possible. Here are three best practices for choosing and implementing Anesthesia scheduling software.
3 Best Practices for Implementing Anesthesia Scheduling Software
1. Look for tools to help you gather the right information
Before you can set up your software and start scheduling with ease, all the details of your call schedules, daily schedules, facility requirements, clinical rules and human resources policies will need to be compiled. These can all be encoded into the software to ensure each schedule you build follows hospital rules and policies.
But if you've been manually building on-call schedules, you may run into trouble bringing all of this information together quickly and concisely. This process can put a significant dent in your operational efficiency, and without all the right details, it will be difficult to make the right staffing decisions.
With any scheduling software you consider, look for what tools are provided to help you gather all of the necessary information. Also, ask if you're assigned an implementation specialist to help you with the process.
2. Set aside time to focus on implementation
Even with the right tools and the right vendor partner to help you, the implementation process takes time. Your progress will be determined by how quickly you can pull together all of the rules, policies and schedules of your department. Place a higher priority on finding these things to ensure faster progress.
By planning ahead for the time cost of compiling information and adapting to the new system, it will be easier to progress to implementing your anesthesia scheduling software.
3. Find out what's included as standard and what would require customization
Every anesthesia practice is unique. There are things you may need your schedule to do that are not considered standard, such as a certain rule or a request you need to process. Learn which customizations are available and which items are considered standard. It is also important to understand that every customization creates variability for both you and your vendor partners. There are often unintended consequences such as supportability that should be considered with every customization request.
Before choosing an anesthesia scheduling software, consider:
- The complexity of the various credentials of your providers
- The rules and policies that govern the schedules
- How many schedules you manage
- How you currently manage requests and swaps, and
Then figure out whether or not the standard rules engine will support your needs Find out how software updates will impact any custom rules will might add to the system.
Best-case scenario: choose a software where the tools you need come standard. If you can get most, or all, of your needs met without requiring custom programming, you'll save yourself a lot of time, money and effort.
Most of all: Be Prepared.
A successful, cost-effective software implementation requires adequate research and planning. If you've settled on a software with the right tools to help you create proper staffing plans in your Anesthesiology department, take the time to familiarize yourself with the implementation process before you begin.
Find out how long a typical implementation takes, as well as how much that time will impact your bottom line. Determine what your role will be in the implementation and how much of a time commitment you'll need to give. Ask exactly what comes standard and what requires customization, as well as how any customization will be maintained.
With adequate preparation, you can minimize common, preventable mistakes in the implementation process. Follow these best practices to ensure a smooth transition from traditional scheduling methods to a more efficient, up-to-date scheduling system.
For more information, see Anesthesia Scheduling.