Managing Physician Absences Through Scheduling Software

Managing Physician Absences Through Scheduling Software

That dreadful time of the year is back again. That moment when you need to sit down and plan your quarterly schedule. As the planner, you are responsible for building your group schedule and ensuring the equitability of shifts and task distributions. Lucky you. But before you even start, you have to compile your group’s absences. Cue the hair pulling and heavy sighing.

You have to compile all those related emails, post-its and distasteful napkin notes. You even have to remember those hallway conversations where a certain doctor told you they couldn’t work on a certain date. Was that in February or March? Hard to tell.

As a physician, your schedule is even more difficult to plan since you have many tasks and shifts to deal with. Collecting the necessary information takes days, even weeks. The longer the collecting of absences takes, the longer you have to wait before planning your schedule. Although this might seem like a small hurdle, there are often unwanted consequences, such as affected patient care due to late schedules and last minute rearrangements.

Time is Wasted Managing Physician Unavailabilities

Managing absences, whether an individual or a schedule planner, is complicated and time consuming. This is often the longest step of schedule planning and requires tweaking before, during, AND after the schedule is built. What a headache!

As a planner, you always receive countless emails from the physicians in your group needing to change shifts for various reasons. This leads you to spending hours tweaking the schedule, whether it be the first, second or twentieth draft, in order to comply to everyone’s requests. Who has time for that? Certainly not you.

For some groups, planning a 3-month schedule can take an average of 18 to 24 hours, depending on the complexity, speciality and size of the group. That is a full day away from patients and takes away from your personal time. Imagine all the things you can do with an extra day on your hands. An ENTIRE day.

It’s time to allow the physicians in your group to electronically input their absences so that you can receive them all in the same form, in one place, when you need them. This way, you can plan your schedule using one tool, with a clear mind. Cut back HOURS of your schedule planning with technology.

How Technology Solves This Challenge

Planners

As a planner, you know how many steps and hours it takes for you to simply START planning your schedule. Software systems allow you to centralize all that data and easily access it before and even during your schedule planning. What normally takes 18 to 24 hours to manage, can now take only 6 hours with technology. That’s 3 to 4 times FASTER!

Planning WITHOUT technology:

  1. Communicate with physicians to ask for their unavailabilities;
  2. When time permits, doctors give you their absences (in many forms);
  3. Re-contact your group to ensure they have handed over their non-availabilities;
  4. Compile all notes, emails and post-its in one document;
  5. Try and organize them by day or other;
  6. Double check to make sure no information was overlooked (late email or other);
  7. Gather any and all missing information;
  8. Create document to use as reference when creating your schedule to ensure equitability;
  9. Start planning your schedule.

Planning WITH technology

  1. Communicate with physicians to ask for their unavailabilities;
  2. Access all absences in one place;
  3. Start planning your schedule.

What’s more, some automated software systems alert you when you assign a doctor to a task or day they had advised they were unavailable for. As easy as 1, 2, 3. Literally.

Managing absences through technology has freed up so much of my time and I have one less thing to worry about. The best part is that my group thinks it is more convenient and the entire process is simplified.
– Nancy Schroeder, Medical Affairs Coordinator, Pembroke Regional Hospital

Physicians

As a group member, technology assures you that your unavailabilities will be sent through and taken into consideration. No need to run after the planner or worry about your note or email being lost along the way.

You are autonomous in your work and can apply this nature to your absences. If you like to plan ahead of time, you can even input your absences months in advance or change them as needed. YOU are in control of your work and personal life balance.

Adopting New Technology Saves Time

Manage unavailabilities

Not only do web-based scheduling solutions benefit everyone in the group, but they also significantly reduce the time spent on its management for planners.

Physicians are busy and losing precious time on something that can be done quickly and efficiently with software systems. It’s time for a change. Wipe your hands clean, spend more time with patients and let technology do the work.

 

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James Gagne, Hospital deployment specialist

Written by James Gagne, Hospital deployment specialist

James Gagné has a degree in Computer Science and has been working in technical support for more than a dozen years. His career has led him to manage and work with teams from around the world, which gives him an excellent knowledge of technological challenges and the solutions to address them.