Cardiologists are close to our hearts—literally. Yet, for all their hard work to keep our blood pumping, too many find themselves working suboptimal schedules. As a result, they spend less time on patient care, lack flexibility and control over their work lives, and produce less revenue. Cardiology schedulers, meanwhile, face complex obstacles to generating schedules that work for the providers, the patients, and the physicians. Despite its complexity, many groups and departments today schedule their cardiologists manually or with basic cardiology scheduling software that isn’t capable of making the complex calculations necessary to create better schedules.
Let’s dig deeper into these problems so that we can better understand how to fix them.
Key challenges with cardiology scheduling
Why is cardiology scheduling so complicated? It all comes down to multiple variables. Here are just a few of the goals and fluctuating components administrators have to keep in mind when scheduling cardiologists:
1. Shortage of physicians
As the baby boomer population ages in the U.S., patient demand is increasing in specialties that focus on chronic diseases and complex medical conditions, like cardiology. Between 2010 and 2030, an additional twenty-seven million Americans may be diagnosed with hypertension, eight million with coronary heart disease, and three million with heart failure. Meanwhile, cardiologists themselves are getting older and fewer, so administrators have less resources to meet rising demand.
2. High acuity and staffing needs in the CICU
Cardiology scheduling goes beyond the clinic, with cardiac intensive care units needing consistent staffing for high acuity patients. With patients also now increasingly admitted to the CICU for primary non-cardiac conditions (but with secondary cardiac comorbidities), cardiologists in the CICU may also need additional training, or to be scheduled alongside other specialists.
3. Subspecialty management
Schedulers must also account for fluctuating subspecialist needs, matching physicians in subspecialties like interventional, transplant, and nuclear to the correct assignments. Many shifts may require at least one subspecialist working or on-call to provide adequate care.
Exploring the benefits of optimized cardiology scheduling software
Optimized physician scheduling software has proven successful for many cardiology departments and groups when it comes to addressing the challenges described above.
Optimized scheduling is ideal for organizations with notoriously complex scheduling requirements and that need to maximize available resources.
Here’s how it works: AI-powered technology takes criteria you set on the back end—like physician shift preferences, fair on-call time management, care continuity, and subspecialist scheduling—and considers millions of possible variations to automatically deliver the best possible schedule option.
With the kind of power AI-optimized scheduling provides, you can:
1. Protect patient safety and care continuity.
Effortlessly ensure adequate staffing and seamless handoffs in the CICU and beyond with the click of a button.
2. Optimally utilize available clinical resources.
Respond to increasing cardiologist shortages by generating optimal schedules. Plus, set rules on the back end to maximize your group’s efficiency.
3. Easily manage multiple subspecialists.
Optimized scheduling software automatically aligns available subspecialty cardiologists with current demand.
Addressing burnout with optimized cardiology scheduling
Another major challenge facing cardiology groups today merits its own discussion—physician burnout. A recent study of cardiologists’ lifestyles by Medscape found the following metrics:
- 46% of cardiologists feel burned out
- 55% stated bureaucratic tasks contribute to burnout
- 39% of cardiologists said they’re spending too many hours at work
- Cardiologists were the least likely specialists to report that they were “very” or “extremely” happy at work—just 21%
- Cardiologists were also the least likely to describe themselves as “very” or “extremely” happy outside of work—just 40%
Cardiologist burnout is a multifaceted challenge that we must approach from multiple angles, including physician scheduling. With optimized scheduling, healthcare leaders and scheduling administrators can take steps toward providing physicians with more flexibility and control over their schedules to achieve better work-life balance. For example, you can:
- Automatically factor in physician preference when building schedules
- Equitably distribute on-call, weekend, and night shifts
- Allow physicians to easily swap shifts and request time off from their mobile devices
Taking it home with you
The possibilities when it comes to shift scheduling for cardiologists 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 cardiology groups and departments? Download and share this quick guide today.