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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.

How to Simplify Your On-Call Scheduling

How to Simplify Your On-Call Scheduling

On-call scheduling may feel like a thankless job. It can be difficult and frustrating, to say the least, but it doesn’t have to be. Scheduling software can simplify this challenge while providing visibility and improving communication with providers.

Visibility is key

A crucial element to simplifying on-call scheduling is visibility. With Intrigma’s scheduling software, you have access to a central dashboard where you can easily see who is on call for each department in any location. Minimize wasted time on searching for the right person to contact with Intrigma’s easy-to-navigate schedule.

Call priority is also an important part of visibility. Scheduling software can prevent wasted time by clearly indicating who to call first when someone needs to be paged. This visibility also takes the “unfair call schedule” complaint out of the mix. Visibility allows all providers to see who is taking calls on weekends, nights, and holidays. It also establishes accountability among providers – when all physicians can see who is scheduled and when, there is more compliance with the schedule.

Keeping the on-call schedule visible and fair also reduces physician burnout. One of the biggest factors in physician burnout is the perception that one person is doing a larger percentage of the work than others. Visibility helps combat this perception.

Simplifying provider contact

On-call scheduling has come a long way from the days when the schedule consisted of multiple pieces of paper and a single landline contact for providers. However, advancements in communication have added to the complexity of actually reaching the provider on call. With so many communication avenues to use, a key element to simplifying on-call scheduling is having easy access to provider contacts.

With effective scheduling software systems, providers can specify their preferred method of contact (phone, pager, email). This can include rules for certain days or times. For example, during the week, provider Smith only wants to be contacted via pager, with her cell phone as a back-up. But on weekends and holidays, provider Smith prefers to have the initial contact attempt made by cell phone.

An effective scheduling system should integrate with existing clinical communication systems (email, pagers) to transfer information from schedule to the on-call provider seamlessly.

Scheduling struggles that software can solve

Imagine you are the clinical supervisor for a large healthcare system. You are responsible for reaching on-call providers when they are needed. You’re covering for multiple departments – radiology, anesthesia, surgery, admissions, and more.

Who is on call for which department? Many departments have different preferences on who you should call first (resident, PA, MD). And what happens if you can’t reach the provider on call? This problem may appear for multiple reasons, like wrong phone numbers, hospital communication system failures, and scheduling confusion.

Having clear escalation procedures in place can help you reach your staff even in difficult situations. Additionally, as mentioned above, scheduling software provides the visibility you need to identify the right on-call provider via their preferred communication channel.

On-call scheduling is still a challenge, especially when you are dealing with multiple providers and departments. However, Intrigma’s efficient software can reduce the burden and make life easier for you and your providers. For more information on how Intrigma can help optimize your on-call schedule, contact us today.

 

Keys to Effective Workforce Management

Keys to Effective Workforce Management

Inefficient management can harm employee satisfaction and retention – a recipe for disaster. Effective workforce management, on the other hand, can maximize performance in organizations. This means taking advantage of information technology to evaluate and optimize workforce systems, particularly in regards to scheduling.

Workforce management is especially significant in healthcare, where organization and performance are critical. Great management in healthcare systems can positively impact not only the satisfaction and success of your workforce but also the health and safety of the patients you care for.

What is workforce management?

Workforce management is a combination of components that, when utilized correctly, can make teams successful. These components include utilizing IT systems to augment employees and implementing procedures that enhance profit. Effective workforce management combines operations management, labor compliance, communications and employee engagement to create a cohesive, productive environment.

For example, Cleveland Clinic responded to the extra strain on its workforce during COVID-19 by taking an “intentional approach” to communication. This strategy included daily emails or recorded messages from the CEO meant to inform, encourage and inspire the organization’s frontline healthcare workers.

In healthcare organizations specifically, workforce management is imperative. Schedulers must optimize productivity, streamline workflows and match staffing with patient demands to enable provider success and patient satisfaction.

Key elements of effective workforce management

Scheduling

In order to successfully utilize workforce management in healthcare, staff scheduling must be a priority. Fortunately, Intrigma’s efficient scheduling software can help your organization enable workforce management. For example, the software allows you to measure provider productivity and match this to patient demand. Providers who are highly productive can be utilized in areas where census or patient acuity is high.

Scheduling software can also track and manage licensures across health systems. Without efficient technology for support, keeping track of multiple licensures across a mix of provider levels can be time-consuming and confusing. Scheduling software also helps managers keep track of the time/hours that providers work. This can make payroll processing much simpler.

Another key element of effective workforce management is having smooth system integrations, which can help eliminate double and triple data entry. Intrigma’s scheduling software can help in this regard too. It integrates with existing clinical communication systems, making scheduling transparency easy. As a result, schedulers can establish accountability among staff and improve communication within and across departments.

Intrigma tools can also integrate with electronic medical records systems (EMR) to pull vital patient information into the schedule. Combined with the ability to integrate with existing payroll systems and other human resource management tools, this interoperability can greatly reduce the time you spend on these tasks.

Other elements

While scheduling is a key factor of workforce management, there are other items to consider as well. Communication is critical. Providers at every level of care should feel that the organization is working collaboratively toward a common goal. In large healthcare systems, this can be difficult, but messages coming straight from the CEO to the staff can go a long way in making sure staff feel connected and valued (like Cleveland Clinic did!).

Mentorship and skills development are two additional elements of workforce management in healthcare. Through mentorship, experienced workers can guide and invest in new staff, which can inspire both to contribute new ideas that add value to the organization. This type of mentoring can develop a promising base of new staff who are already familiar with the organization’s culture and mission. Additionally, with ever-changing technology advancements, skills development helps train employees to meet new demands and be more productive.

Benefits of workforce management

Not only does effective workforce management allow offices to run more smoothly, but it can also positively impact workforce culture. One example is employee engagement. Providers who feel like they are an integral part of the larger picture will work harder and be more productive for the organization.

Additionally, good management reduces staff call-offs and turnover, largely thanks to the transparency and flexibility scheduling software enables. For example, Intrigma’s scheduling software helps optimize the schedule to avoid under- and overstaffing (and the consequential impacts on patient and provider satisfaction). After all, having understaffed units creates frustration and impacts the care your patients receive. And overstaffing can lead to costly overtime or putting staff on call. With valuable workforce management elements like scheduling software, you can create loyalty among staff and reduce employee turnover.

For more information on how Intrigma can improve your organization’s scheduling and workforce management strategies, contact the team today.

Help Decrease Employee Stress During the COVID-19 Era

Help Decrease Employee Stress During the COVID-19 Era

Healthcare workers face stress daily for many reasons, but COVID-19 has created a whole new level of stress in the healthcare field. Fortunately, your organization can alleviate some of it by streamlining your processes and utilizing scheduling software.

Pandemic stressors

Since COVID-19 appeared, healthcare workers have found themselves facing new stressors (besides the obvious health and safety concerns). While some healthcare areas are busier than ever, other areas have suffered a decrease in traffic due to COVID-19. For example, outpatient surgery centers were closed for months, causing some healthcare workers to fear job loss. On the other hand, in other areas like intensive care units, workers may be overwhelmed and overworked. The combination of having long shifts, working overtime, and watching patients pass away creates an entirely new level of stress.

Some areas of healthcare have also had to adapt to new work locations or new processes and technology. Some workers have shifted from slow outpatient areas to busy inpatient units to work at the bedside. COVID-19 has brought different processes to many units as well, especially in areas like personal protective equipment and infection control. Furthermore, many healthcare workers have had to adopt new technology in regards to telemedicine, testing, treatment, and vaccine storage and administration.

As if these work situations weren’t stressful enough, there is also stress on the home front. Healthcare workers with young children have been dealing with homeschooling. Where doctors and nurses used to be able to go home and relax with family, their off-hours may now be spent in Google Classroom helping their children figure out remote learning. Such stress at work and home makes finding comfort even more important.

Ways to decrease employee stress

You can help your employees.

With COVID-19 processes and procedures changing frequently, communication is key to decrease employee stress. Communicating openly with employees about process changes can prevent confusion, frustration, and panic.

When possible, try to elicit staff input about office procedures. Allowing staff to make suggestions on how new procedures can be best implemented in the workplace can make employees feel they have some control over their environment.

Additionally, offering flexible scheduling is one of the most important things that can help decrease employee stress. Given the added strain most healthcare providers are dealing with at home, allowing staff to trade and swap shifts and view the schedule remotely will help them manage their lives and give them some autonomy back.

Finally, offering support services to employees can support them through these challenging times. Most employers offer some type of employee assistance programming for counseling and mental health services in a confidential manner. Take advantage of these services to help preserve your employees’ well-being.

How scheduling software can help

Scheduling can either add stress to the workplace or decrease it. With Intrigma’s scheduling software, you have multiple opportunities to decrease it. For example, utilize scheduling rules that take provider preferences into consideration and generate schedules automatically based on those preferences. This feature will both decrease stress on your providers and decrease the time you spend on creating and editing schedules.

Again, being flexible with scheduling can also help working parents balance schedules with family time or homeschooling. Creating transparency in the workplace is possible with scheduling software that can be accessed remotely from home computers or cell phones. This type of transparency allows providers to fill in last-minute openings in the schedule quickly. For example, if a provider is out sick, other providers in the unit can see the open shift and step in.

While the stressors of COVID-19 are probably not going away any time soon, there are ways your organization can help support your healthcare providers during these challenging times. To learn more about how scheduling software can help, contact Intrigma.