How Intrigma Can Help Your Organization During COVID-19

How Intrigma Can Help Your Organization During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many new challenges to healthcare in the United States and across the world. From patient surges to healthcare worker exposure and illness, the potential to be caught off guard is a real threat to staff and patients alike. Scheduling software can help your organization match provider availability and productivity to patient demand, manage schedules according to demand, and provide real-time access to the schedule.

Match provider availability/productivity with patient demand

To maximize efficiency, schedules should do more than document shifts. They should be an integral tool in optimizing providers’ jobs. Fortunately, intelligent scheduling software can enhance schedules to be more interactive and streamlined. For example, scheduling software can help match provider availability and productivity with patient demand. Intrigma can integrate with historical data to predict census and patient demand. This feature helps your organization avoid costly overstaffing during times of low patient census and frustrating understaffing during patient surges. It also helps avoid overtime by tracking each provider’s worked hours. In fact, you can enable specific tracking features to record overtime or FEMA hours.

Manage the schedule according to demand

Many organizations have added staffing to their schedule in the form of COVID-19 service shifts or designated coronavirus care sites and staff. Keeping track of staffing par levels across multiple sites and departments, and then transferring staff to and from sites, is challenging. Intrigma makes it easy to manage the schedule according to demand. The software can delineate scheduling for designated COVID-19 sites and staff or restrict staffing for certain units or shifts. You can determine which staff members you want for each unit.

With the pandemic, patient surges are less of a challenge if you know they are happening in real time. With the right scheduling software, you can shift providers from less busy sites to meet patient surges. Additionally, you can adjust staffing mixes quickly as needed. For example, COVID-19 testing sites require more ancillary staff to collect and process laboratory samples. Scheduling software can help you organize providers efficiently so that the proper staff is where they need to be.

Also, depending on the geographic area, some sites may be very busy while others have a low patient census. Many sites have even transitioned to a remote care model in order to continue to provide safe and effective care to patients. Utilize your staff to its fullest by shifting staff from slow or closed sites to the busiest areas.

Real-time access to schedule

Maintaining safe and appropriate staffing levels in healthcare facilities is necessary to provide a safe environment for your staff and your patients.

Keeping your staff engaged and informed is also essential. As patient surges occur, you can add surge shifts to the schedule in the form of open shifts, which all staff can see (no matter whether they are in the office or at home accessing through the mobile app). In addition, you can make the reimbursement rate visible if your organization incentivizes staff to pick up open shifts.

Additionally, as cases of COVID-19 occur, staff can get exposed and become ill, often without much warning. Intrigma’s software easily accommodates shift trades and swaps on the same day if needed. Shifts can be split between providers for greater flexibility and for increased provider availability as well. You can also post open shifts as soon as they become available, and providers can pick them up as they please. These features help ensure adequate staffing for your units all while allowing your staff maximum flexibility. This type of transparency in scheduling can also encourage staff to take ownership, motivating them to pick up open shifts in an effort to help alleviate staffing shortages.

Despite the unique challenges COVID-19 has brought to healthcare, organizations across the country are rising to and meeting the challenge head-on. The ability to match provider availability with patient demand, manage the schedule according to demand, and have real-time access to schedules can make a meaningful difference in how your organization faces these challenges. For more information, or to try our scheduling software for free, contact Intrigma.

Keeping Your Office Open and Safe During COVID-19

Keeping Your Office Open and Safe During COVID-19

There are many steps an office can take to ensure safe operations during COVID-19. Along with social distancing and infection control measures, you can utilize scheduling software to reduce the risk of exposure to staff and providers. By using telemedicine and planning for staffing shortages and patient surges, you can reduce the pandemic’s impact on operations.

Social distancing and infection control measures

For providers working in person at healthcare facilities, there are some precautions that have become standard over the past few months. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend the following measures:

  • Conduct daily health screenings of staff, including temperature checks and health screening questions.
  • Keep a six-foot distance between staff when possible.
  • Frequently wash your hands or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Utilize masks and appropriate PPE.
  • Advise workers to stay home if they are sick, and follow accepted guidelines for their return to work.
  • Routinely clean surfaces and high-touch areas with soap and water, followed by a household disinfectant approved for use for the coronavirus.
  • Follow instructions on the label of disinfectants to ensure appropriate virucidal activity.

Telemedicine tips and scheduling resources for success

Appropriate staff scheduling is important to keep the office running smoothly. COVID-19 has brought telemedicine to the forefront of healthcare, and it offers a way to keep staff working from the safety of their own home. Telemedicine is also a great way to control traffic through your office while still serving the needs of your patients. To enable success with telemedicine initiatives:

  • Schedule support staff so they can contact patients prior to their telemedicine appointment.
  • Ensure patients are directed to the correct platform.
  • Make sure your patients understand how to access and use telemedicine technology.

Telemedicine can help protect your at-risk patients from exposure to COVID-19, and it can help your COVID-19 positive patients who need care at home. By keeping these patients separate, you are also reducing exposure risk for your staff. If patients must come in for a visit:

  • Utilize your staff to screen patients prior to arrival. Calling patients prior to their appointment and asking screening questions over the phone can reduce congestion in office waiting areas.
  • Schedule MAs, LPNs and RNs in order to keep your office running smoothly since these types of screening and triage processes require ancillary staff.

Planning for staffing shortages and patient surges

Staffing shortages are one of the recent challenges facing healthcare facilities as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. These shortages occur due to office staff being exposed to the virus, becoming symptomatic, or needing time off to care for ill family members at home. Appropriate staffing provides a safe environment for your staff and for your patients. The CDC recommends the following contingency plans for staffing:

  • Adjust existing staff schedules.
  • Hire additional office staff.
  • Rotate staff from low-demand sites and roles to high-demand areas and roles.
  • Shift staff from in-office work to remote work.

Offices should also have a plan in place for supplemental staff if a provider tests positive. When this happens, a 10-20-day absence is necessary. Having efficient scheduling software in place for support staff can greatly reduce the time you have to spend manipulating the schedule. With Intrigma, you can post last-minute open shifts, allow staff to trade or swap shifts, and post surge staffing needs quickly and easily.

Another way to utilize staff and protect employees in the office is through contact tracing. Contact tracing should be done within the office to determine whether other staff will require quarantine and whether patients will need to be notified. Generally, state and local health departments assist with contact tracing and determining who needs to be quarantined and/or tested. However, having contact numbers for all of your staff in one centralized location will help make your communication smooth. Intrigma offers Efficient Communications software that can integrate seamlessly with your existing paging and texting systems.

The CDC also has recommendations for return-to-work criteria for healthcare personnel. It is important to ensure staff do not return too early and risk the further spread of illness throughout the office or to patients. Currently, a test-based strategy for allowing a return to work is notrecommended. In fact, it has been determined that many people continue to shed a small amount of virus for weeks following infection, but it is not at a level that is infectious to others.

Currently, the following are acceptable return-to-work criteria for healthcare personnel:

  • A minimum of 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms, and
  • A minimum of 24 hours have passed since the last documented fever (without the use of medication that lowers a fever), and
  • There has been an improvement in symptoms.

Next steps

COVID-19 offers unique challenges to healthcare facilities. Guidelines are evolving and frequent changes in protocols can be challenging to monitor. Keeping your office open and safe during this time is essential to protecting your staff and providing high-quality care to your patients. Having scheduling software that can accommodate last-minute changes in staffing is essential to keeping your office running smoothly during COVID-19. Intrigma Efficient Works offers the first vital resource coordination platform and will make a difference in how easy it is to strategize last-minute changes to your workforce.

To learn more, contact Intrigma today.


Ways to Simplify Residency Scheduling

Ways to Simplify Residency Scheduling

Residents look forward to match day to learn what programs they may be spending the next four years of their life with. While match day may be a pinnacle for residents, it is just the beginning of a long and arduous residency scheduling process. Fortunately, efficient and automated scheduling software can create schedule transparency, control schedule access, and facilitate schedule automation and metric tracking to simplify the process for all parties.

Schedule transparency

The importance of schedule transparency, especially for residency scheduling, cannot be overemphasized. Transparency allows both your residents and managers to view the schedule and request changes in advance, reducing last-minute hassles and potential gaps. Additionally, it decreases stress on the residents because they can easily view shifts from their PC or mobile device, thanks to Intrigma’s remote access capabilities.

Intrigma’s scheduling dashboard also allows you to simultaneously view multiple residents’ rotation schedules as well as the actual working schedule. This transparency helps you keep track of where residents are working and to whom they are assigned. Plus, having this all available in one easy-to-view area makes scheduling accessible and a breeze to navigate.

Controlled schedule access

When you have many residents to coordinate, having control of the schedule is imperative, largely due to rules enacted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). This council dictates the number of hours per shift and per week that residents can be expected to complete. It also dictates the number of on-call shifts residents can be scheduled for.

Tight control of scheduling can ensure your program is compliant with the ACGME. Intrigma’s scheduling software allows you to restrict access to certain parts of the system, only permitting the chief resident to log in and schedule for certain areas.

Schedule automation and metric tracking

Schedulers’ jobs are multi-fold. They must maximize residents’ schedules while helping them achieve their educational requirements and goals and maintaining their sanity and safety. In fact, overworked residents can threaten patient safety as well. For example, overtired residents may struggle with concentration, which could potentially lead to errors in tasks such as filling out paperwork or prescriptions.

Automated scheduling can avoid these dangerous situations and offers many benefits. It increases efficiency, eliminates favoritism in the schedule, and allows for last-minute changes when required.

Additionally, it creates fairness to residents by tracking any specific day, shift, or other metrics to ensure fair distribution across all residents. For example, you can track which residents are working Friday nights or holidays and make adjustments where needed. This enables you to avoid scheduling residents for too many night shifts in a row and minimize day/night swings in the schedule. Intrigma’s scheduling software also allows you to send deadline reminders to make sure residents submit requests for vacation on time.

As a result, you can ensure compliance with residency and rotation requirements, thanks to software that creates scheduling rules and automation to make your job easier.

Don’t let residency scheduling be the nightmare it is capable of becoming. To learn more about how Intrigma can simplify your residency scheduling, contact us today.

The True Cost of Employee Overtime in Healthcare

The True Cost of Employee Overtime in Healthcare

Employee overtime can affect more than your organization’s bottom line. It can impact employee morale, performance, and health, and it can even impact your patients. Making sure your organization tracks overtime can lead to improved employee satisfaction and a better bottom line for your organization.

Overtime effect on the workforce

Overtime has been shown to impact employee morale. In fact, overworked employees can feel frustrated and powerless, and because low morale spreads quickly among workers, it can impact productivity fast as well. For example, employees may intentionally work slower so they don’t feel taken advantage of.

Additionally, overtime contributes to stress and health problems for employees. Studies have shown that excessive overtime can reflect in employees’ poor eating habits, lack of physical activity, and illness. Another problem that can occur from too much overtime is an increased risk of injuries and accidents among employees. Tired employees do not always use proper body mechanics and may be unable to focus on important tasks. For example, fatigue can make precision and concentration difficult, both of which could be detrimental to safety in situations like performing surgery or handling a needle.

Overtime effect on the office

Too much overtime can also influence both the office and the patients. Overworked employees may have attitudes that can impact their day-to-day communication techniques, potentially resulting in declining patient satisfaction, provider fatigue and burnout, poor staff morale, and higher rates of turnover. On a more serious level, healthcare research proves that too much employee overtime is linked to medical errors and other threats to patient safety.

Furthermore, nearly 70% of nurses agree that fatigue has caused them to worry about their ability to perform at work, and almost 100% report that they have felt tired when beginning their shift. Many nurses also believe that overtime is assigned more often than necessary.

Ways to reduce employee overtime

Clearly, overtime brings with it the potential for many negative effects. Fortunately, scheduling software from Intrigma can help healthcare organizations minimize overtime through a more balanced schedule.

One of the easiest ways to distribute work evenly among staff is by providing access to online scheduling. Allowing providers to see office staffing needs creates transparency and leads to increased staff buy-in. Simply put, providers are more willing to be flexible with scheduling if they can see the needs of the organization.

Scheduling software can optimize current staff too. You can analyze historical data to help determine how to best staff to meet patient demand. Maintaining a supply of “float” and PRN staff can help take the pressure off of your regular full-time staff. Additionally, scheduling software can help protect staff from fatigue and burnout by creating scheduling rules that protect circadian rhythms and prevent staff from working too many overnight shifts or long shifts.

You can also build provider preferences into the schedule. This is a good way to help maintain employee satisfaction. For example, if Provider A works the late rotation on Wednesday, you can create a rule that the same provider does not have to work the early rotation on Thursday. You may implement other rules too, such as not scheduling more than three overnight shifts in a row.

What’s next?

Employee overtime does more than impact the bottom line of your organization. By protecting staff from the stress and consequences of overtime, you can keep your office running smoothly and keep your patients safe and satisfied. To learn more about how scheduling software can help your organization avoid the pitfalls of overtime, contact Intrigma today.

The Physician Burnout Rate Is at an All-Time High. Scheduling Software Can Help.

The Physician Burnout Rate Is at an All-Time High. Scheduling Software Can Help.

Physician burnout is at an all-time high. Between the challenges associated with COVID-19, poor work-life balance and family responsibilities, time pressures, and electronic health record (EHR) requirements, it’s no wonder physicians are feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, scheduling software can offer vital support to your providers.

Statistics prove the point

Burnout is a syndrome recognized by the World Health Organization that causes three types of stress: physical, psychological and emotional. Sufferers feel emotionally exhausted, display depersonalization or cynicism, and experience a low sense of accomplishment from the work they do.

A recent study by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine found that physician burnout reached an all-time high in 2019. In this study, 35-54% of U.S. physicians reported symptoms of burnout. In addition, the rate among medical students and residents was 45-54%, likely due to long work hours and low pay. The study also found that physician burnout was present across all care settings. However, the highest rates were found in specialty practice areas like critical care, neurology, family medicine, internal medicine and emergency medicine.

This is a significant percentage of the physician population, and increased burnout leads to job dissatisfaction, may create safety issues for patients and can ultimately lead to physicians leaving a practice altogether. With this in mind, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) finds that the U.S. is already facing an all-time high shortage of physicians. Even worse, they predict that by 2033, the U.S. will have between 54,000 and 139,000 fewer physicians than it needs.

Keep in mind too: These numbers are from a 2019 study, prior to the onset of COVID-19. With the additional stress the pandemic adds, the numbers only increase. Physicians are already reporting feeling overworked and unable to keep up with the ever-changing information surrounding the virus.

As such, it is important to take steps to reduce burnout as much as possible to preserve the mental health of your physicians.

Causes of physician burnout

To successfully reduce burnout, you first need to know what specifically causes it. There are many factors that contribute to physician burnout, but the most commonly reported causes include time pressures, family responsibilities and patient demands.

Another key factor is the amount of time physicians spent on bureaucratic tasks and EHR documentation. In fact, nearly a third of physicians claimed that less-demanding work and call schedules (that would help them maintain work-life balance) would drastically reduce their burnout.

Potential interventions – Scheduling software to the rescue

A recent AMA study identified the following areas as ways to impact and decrease burnout:

  • Create a positive work and learning environment.
  • Reduce the time physicians spend on administrative tasks.
  • Provide technology support and investment in research.

While these categories are broad, they can be narrowed down to actionable solutions. One of the most meaningful ways to provide support to your providers is through scheduling.

Physicians often feel powerless when it comes to scheduling, so allowing for more flexibility can go a long way in increasing job satisfaction. After all, not every patient scenario can fit nicely into a 15-minute time block on the schedule. Allowing flexibility for patient appointments can reduce provider stress and increase patient satisfaction by letting physicians spend more time with certain patients.

You can also achieve flexibility in the schedule by giving your physicians access to their schedules remotely and allowing them to make time-off requests as needed. This scheduling model supports your physicians’ family demands and improves work-life balance. Intrigma’s Dashboard feature allows your physicians to see what their day holds at a glance, and you can quickly make changes in time blocks to accommodate patients’ needs.

Besides scheduling software, you can also utilize staff surveys and get staff involved in office protocols. As a result, you can more easily recognize providers as valuable contributors to the workplace. Additionally, providing technology solutions, like simplifying the EHR, can reduce the amount of time physicians spend on clerical tasks and increase the amount of time they spend doing what they love, treating patients.

Physician burnout puts providers and patients at risk. Thus, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to help reduce the risk. To learn more about how scheduling software can reduce physician burnout, contact Intrigma today.