Physicians in academic medicine bear a significant weight on their shoulders. They’re compelled to train the next generation of healers, to pursue innovative research ideas, and, of course, to care for patients.
Recently, serious challenges are accompanying these already enormous responsibilities. With funding for medical research declining, academic medical centers must do more with less—without burning out their physicians.
Optimized physician scheduling provides part of the solution to this multifaceted challenge, and opens up the door for a broader culture shift that values both wellness and efficiency.
Reasons academic medicine needs optimized scheduling
1. Shortage of physicians and resources
With less funding available to work with, cost savings and efficiency gains remain persistent goals for the leaders of academic medical centers. In many cases, this has resulted in an emphasis on productivity measurement through relative value units, or RVUs. However, RVUs fail to capture the full scope of the work academic physicians do and disproportionately incentivize clinical productivity over patient care and valuable research, many physicians argue.
2. Physicians and residents have a high risk of burnout
With scarce resources and increasing patient demand, physicians and residents in academic medicine are at risk of being overworked, fatigued, and overall dissatisfied with their jobs. Contemporary research indicates the need for a culture shift during residency in particular—citing grueling hours, overwhelmingly complex systems, and exposure to traumatic experiences as major contributors to burnout. While a recent study found a reduction in physician burnout nationwide, the number still hovers around 43.9%, compared to only 28.1% of the general population.
3. Need to pair residents with attending physicians
On a practical level, scheduling in academic medicine involves numerous complexities. In addition to aligning physicians and subspecialists with patient demand and research opportunities, academic medical centers need to coordinate resident schedules with those of attending physicians. They also need to be able to easily track residents’ hours to ensure they’re meeting academic requirements.
The benefits of optimized scheduling for academic medicine
Optimized physician scheduling software has proven successful for many academic hospitals and medical centers 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. AI-powered technology takes criteria you set on the back end—like physician shift preferences, fair on-call time management, residency requirements, and value-based productivity goals—and considers millions of possible variations to automatically deliver the best possible schedule option.
With the kind of power you get from AI-optimized scheduling, you can:
1. Go beyond RVUs and do more with what you have
Accurately measure productivity and workload by tracking the type of work that gets done, who does it, and how long it takes. Set rules that prioritize the work most beneficial for your organization, and make every minute count by consistently generating optimal schedules.
2. Proactively address burnout with flexible scheduling
Build in contingencies to distribute call shifts equally and adjust for physician preference. Provide physicians with the opportunity to easily view their schedules, request time off, and swap shifts with other providers. Give both physicians and residents flexibility and work-life balance to prevent costly, dangerous burnout.
3. Easily align residents with available attendings
Instead of spending hours agonizing over how to coordinate residents with attending physicians—and then having to rework the entire schedule when there’s an unexpected change—automatically create schedules that work for everyone with the click of a button. When you have to make a change, the schedule intelligently adapts to the new information.
The possibilities when it comes to shift scheduling for academic medicine 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 academic medical centers? Download and share this quick guide today.