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You’re surrounded by spreadsheets, drowning in numbers, and trying to keep track of emails to see who’s taking PTO. If this sounds familiar, you might be scheduling healthcare shifts through an outdated system. This essential task can take away hours of your team’s time. But with all the technology out there, finding the right healthcare staff scheduling software may seem difficult. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Healthcare Staff Scheduling Software?

Healthcare staff scheduling software is any software that allocates and adjusts schedules for healthcare workers. Not only does healthcare staff scheduling software create and adjust schedules, it also keeps track of the hours your employees work—ensuring that everyone is paid accurately and on-time. In the fast-paced world of healthcare hiring and management, shift scheduling software can be a lifesaving tool.

Why You Need Scheduling Software Built for Healthcare

So why can’t you use staff scheduling software designed for other industries? Well, you can, but you may not get the results you’re looking for.

Healthcare is not like any other industry, and healthcare shift scheduling isn’t like shift scheduling anywhere else. When managing shifts, you have to take into account multiple factors, such as your staff’s master rotation schedule, last minute call-offs, your staff’s level of experience, and flexible or unconventional schedules.

You also may have to deal with diverse employment contracts: permanent, agency, and temporary. When you don’t have the right tools, you may schedule too many workers with certain employment contracts (leading to financial losses), or too few workers in general (leading to a lack of patient care). All these variables are enough to make anyone’s head spin. But the right software can clear the fog around staff scheduling in healthcare.

Read more about healthcare’s unique hiring challenges

Benefits of a Healthcare Scheduling System

Staff scheduling software can take the stress of calculating shifts off of your hands. And when shift scheduling is automated, it also opens you up to a whole new world of flexible scheduling—without all the logistics that usually entails.

Here are four core benefits of using a healthcare scheduling system.

1. Rapid Processes

Without a shift scheduling platform, it could take hours—or even days—for your HR employees to fill shifts, manage schedules, and account for PTO. With the right software, this is all done in a few clicks of a button. Speed is the name of the game in healthcare. Saving time during shift scheduling can help your team focus on other big-picture tasks, including hiring and retention.

2. Reminder Notifications

We all know the feeling of the dreaded no-show. Someone’s forgotten about their shift. Maybe it’s at a different time than usual, or they’re covering for someone. Missing work without notice throws the entire staff off balance, and reminder notifications can help. Shift scheduling software can ensure that your staff receives a notification before every shift, preventing no-shows across your organization.

3. Balanced Labor Management

Manual scheduling can mean more errors, especially when it comes to ensuring you have the right mix of staff and expertise. Maybe you scheduled too few CNAs, or all your LPNs on one shift are new to your company.

But with healthcare staff scheduling software, you can ensure that the right mix of staff are present at any given time. You can also ensure continuity of care, making sure that you can visualize who has worked directly with which patients. This way, you know that all patient information has been recorded and passed along responsibly.

4. Staff Engagement

Ultimately, shift scheduling can help you remain accountable to your staff—and vice versa. When staff know that their shifts are scheduled fairly and exactly when they’re working, they trust you more as an employer. When your shift scheduling software integrates with payroll, then you can also ensure that your staff is paid correctly and on time—no exceptions.

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3 Common Scheduling Challenges Faced in Healthcare

Healthcare staff scheduling software can help you overcome systemic scheduling issues. Here are some common issues in healthcare scheduling (and how software can help you avoid them).

1. Lack of Visibility

When staff schedules aren’t readily available to employees, things can quickly get confusing. Chances of a missed shift rise dramatically when staff don’t have full access to their schedules. Shift scheduling software can ensure that staff know when they’re working, whether they’re checking their calendar at home or at work.

2. Poor Compliance

Workforce scheduling software can help ensure that your scheduling practices are and remain compliant. You need to make sure that your staff are taking mandatory breaks, that they’re paid equitably for overtime, and that you’re neither over- nor under-scheduling your workers. Failure to do so could lead to fines and other dire consequences.

3. Inadequate Medical Staffing

Maintaining safe staffing ratios has long been an uphill fight in the healthcare sector. Often, there aren’t enough nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers to fill shifts. Staffing imbalances can lead to many negative outcomes, including medication errors, patient dissatisfaction, and staff burnout. Healthcare staff scheduling software can’t increase the number of workers available, but it can ensure that the workers you do have are scheduled as efficiently as possible.

5 Key Features for Healthcare Staff Scheduling Software

Even among healthcare specific staff scheduling software, some products are built better than others. This is what you should look out for when shopping for the right technology.

1. User-Friendly Interface

A user-friendly interface can help staff easily navigate their own schedules and prevent miscommunication. It can also help management easily understand what’s going on at a macro level.

Here’s what to look out for in a software demo

2. Automatic Reminders

Invest in a software that sends your staff reminders of their upcoming shifts. This way, staff won’t get blindsided when they’re scheduled for new shifts, or forget when they’ve scheduled a swap.

3. Integration With Other Software

Shift scheduling software becomes much more efficient when it integrates with payroll and hiring software. By connecting your scheduling platform to payroll, you’ll be able to quickly pay staff based on the time they’ve worked, calculating any overtime bonuses. When you integrate with a hiring and onboarding platform, you’ll be able to easily transfer new hire data to the shift scheduling platform and get your new hires started off on the right foot.

5. Account for Budget

You need to make sure that you budget for shifts across day, evening and night. Having a system that automatically posts open shifts based on your staffing budget across both internal and external labor pools saves labor costs. It also provides visibility into how scheduling connected with long-term labor management. In other words, you’ll have detailed records on how certain scheduling practices have helped you save funds.

6. Flexible Scheduling

The best software will allow you to easily input flexible scheduling options, such as float pools, staggered shifts, overtime, and others. This way, you can offer flexible options to your staff without having to do the math.

Apploi Makes Healthcare Staff Scheduling Easier With Schedule

Through Schedule’s healthcare-specific shift scheduling platform, Apploi customers will soon be able to schedule employee shifts on the same platform they use to hire and onboard. Join the Schedule waitlist here.

Di Yu

Di is a global adventurer, product specialist, and startup enthusiast and advisor with experience in product development, go-to-market strategy, sales enablement, customer acquisition, and channel optimization.