How to Make The Transition to Rules-Based Nurse Scheduling Software

Tony Torti, SVP of Schedule360 at QGenda

In today’s complex and fast-paced healthcare landscape, the benefits of rules-based nurse scheduling software are undeniable. First, consider the challenges nurses face: they comprise the largest percentage of healthcare professionals, and their role is one of the most demanding. According to a recent study by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, 22% of nurses are considering leaving their jobs, 60% of which said they were more likely to do so since the beginning of the pandemic. Configurable, web-based scheduling solutions provide real-time access to accurate shift information and updates, assign equitable shifts, reduce overtime, and mitigate last-minute staffing scrambles. All of which helps alleviate this burnout and improves employee retention, one of the most prominent issues in nursing. 

However, it’s not just nurses or nursing supervisors who benefit from scheduling innovations. Adequate shift coverage for qualified nurses enables better work-life balance and ultimately contributes to improved patient access and operational excellence for the healthcare organization as a whole. For example, reducing labor costs and unnecessary time and effort spent on manual scheduling has significant positive impacts on a health system’s budget and increases staff productivity. In addition, being able to proactively manage scheduling, correctly estimate demand, manage float pools, and more, helps healthcare organizations meet target times for caring for patients by having the right resources and credentialed individuals available – which in turn drives better health outcomes for the patients they serve. 

As more healthcare organizations adopt digital scheduling technologies, it’s important to consider some guidelines during the transition from manual scheduling processes to web-based nurse scheduling software: 

Configurability and flexibility 

Not every healthcare organization runs the same way, and even within the same organization, not every unit may run the same way. Robust scheduling solutions can accommodate different departmental needs and requirements, an important capability to look for in order to deliver the right workload distribution and appropriate coverage for various specialties or qualifications, and more. In addition, the ability for nurses to self-schedule based on their licensure and qualifications helps teams plan coverage in advance. The right solution also reduces scrambling to cover last-minute shifts by dispatching critical needs to all qualified nurses. With these factors in mind, it’s important to seek a solution that meets the specific needs of nurses and nurse administrators, so technology is help – not a hindrance – to optimized workflows. 

Onboarding, training, and implementation 

Healthcare professionals’ core competencies lie in medicine, not necessarily technology. This is why a nurse scheduling solution should be intuitive, easy to use, and digitally accessible from any device or platform so that it fits into the already-busy lives of healthcare professionals. Reducing implementation time for adopting new technology is not only critical to minimize disruption of day-to-day operations, but also to ensure there is no disruption to patient care as well. Further, implementation that doesn’t require time- or labor-intensive data entry or lengthy rollouts of the provider minimizes any workflow disruptions, so choosing a technology partner that provides comprehensive support and guidance is key as part of the solution evaluation process. Reducing the efforts spent on ramping up technological adoption puts the focus back where it should be: on patients and health outcomes.

Integration with existing systems and workflows 

Nurse scheduling software should be able to support and streamline necessary functions, from messaging and other communications to time-off requests and payroll validation, in a way that fits into today’s increasingly intricate and fast-paced healthcare environment. Web-based applications are especially helpful in this regard. They enable anytime, anywhere accessibility, while preserving the same comprehensive functionality and real-time data flows between systems – no matter the platform. As such, the right tools not only automate the scheduling process based on rules and preset parameters, they also help staffers who are time-starved and wearing multiple hats stay productive, learn and apply best practices, and execute overall governance easier. The better the health of the enterprise’s operations, the better the health of its patients and their outcomes. 

Moving from manual to rules-based automated nurse scheduling software is a necessary investment for growth and efficiency as the medical industry continues to rapidly evolve. To realize these benefits, it’s important to choose the right tools and technology partner for nurse scheduling. Making the onboarding process as seamless as possible, assessing ease of use, and evaluating compatibility and integration with existing systems and processes, such as payroll reporting, are vital considerations to take into account. Settling for overly generic or one-size-fits-all solutions simply won’t do in a complex healthcare environment. Leveraging next-gen digital tools that are purpose-built for the demands of nurses can yield exponential benefits and help healthcare organizations stay ahead of the curve, ensuring a successful transition from manual to nurse scheduling software that reaps enormous rewards. 

About Tony Torti

Tony Torti is QGenda’s SVP of Schedule360. He earned his RPh from The University of Toledo, then applied his experience working in the field to create a robust web-based software solution to address one of the most complex pain points in healthcare: staff scheduling. He is dedicated to simplifying workforce management through scalable staff scheduling software and accessible streamlining tools.