Operating rooms are reliable money makers, generating up to 60% of total revenue in hospitals alone. That means every minute that the OR is empty, understaffed, or overstaffed is a detriment to productivity, timely patient care, and profitability. With manual scheduling and generic, basic anesthesiologist scheduling software still prevalent in healthcare today, many hospitals and anesthesiology groups are missing opportunities to maximize revenue, care for patients, and retain physicians.

Optimized physician scheduling, by contrast, opens up countless possibilities. Let’s examine the most persistent challenges in anesthesiology scheduling, and how optimized scheduling helps everyone—from small groups to large enterprises—overcome them.

The main challenges with anesthesiology scheduling

What’s the big difference between something complex and something simple? Variables. Physician scheduling in general already involves many factors that are subject to change, and anesthesiology specifically has its own unique considerations:

1. Subspecialists must perform different kinds of procedures.

From cardiothoracic and critical care to obstetrics and pediatrics, various anesthesiology subspecialists must be available at all times to prevent gaps in patient care.

2. Physicians, CRNAs, fellows, and residents practice across multiple locations.

As more procedures involving anesthesia become available outside the operating room, schedulers must coordinate specialists of all types for maximum coverage.

3. Physicians need equitable distribution of on-call, weekend, and night shifts.

You don’t want overworked, dangerously fatigued physicians in your operating room working with anesthesia. Burned-out anesthesiologists are more likely to make errors and quit their jobs, driving up retention and recruitment costs.

4. Unpredictable delays, changes, and cancellations in the OR.

When staffing anesthesiologists, schedulers must expect the unexpected. Unforeseen scheduling changes, combined with inefficiencies and errors in surgery scheduling, extend patient wait times and hit productivity hard.

The benefits of optimized anesthesiology scheduling software

What is optimized shift scheduling, and how is it different from what most anesthesia groups and practices are doing today?

Optimized scheduling, delivered through AI-powered physician scheduling software, is ideal for specialties with notoriously complex scheduling requirements. AI-powered technology takes criteria you set on the back end—like physician shift preferences, fair on-call time management, or required recovery time after overnight shifts—and considers millions of possible variations to automatically deliver the best possible schedule option.

Contrast this method with automated shift scheduling—a prevalent practice in healthcare today. While perhaps more efficient than scheduling by hand, automated scheduling doesn’t adequately consider the nuances present in a field like anesthesiology. Automated scheduling takes the criteria that you’ve set, and simply chooses the first possible option to set the schedule.

Optimized scheduling goes several steps further, helping you move fast and deliver optimal results.

With the kind of power you get from rule-based, AI-optimized scheduling, you can:

1. Ensure key specialists are consistently available.

Set rules that mandate how many subspecialists must be available on any given shift to protect patient safety.

2. Create schedules that automatically adapt to change.

Don’t manually rework the schedule every time a surgery is cancelled or a physician requests time off. Instead, let AI intelligently adjust it for you, based on your unique parameters.

3. Automatically maintain call equity and spacing.

Build in contingencies to distribute call shifts equally and adjust for physician preference. Plus, give physicians flexibility and work-life balance to prevent costly, dangerous burnout.

4. Get the information you need at a glance.

Provide access to a real-time centralized on-call schedule to simplify management of multiple specialists and locations.

Optimized scheduling in anesthesiology produces efficiency gains unmatched by other scheduling methods, keeping your OR productive and your patients and physicians satisfied.

Taking it with you

The possibilities when it comes to shift scheduling for anesthesiology are endless—literally, because there are more possible shift schedules in medicine than there are atoms in the universe.

But with optimized scheduling, you have the opportunity to choose the best one, every time.

Ready to learn more about Lightning Bolt’s optimized scheduling solution for anesthesiology? Download and share this quick guide today.

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