Improving Hospital Productivity Through Optimized Physician Scheduling


Inefficient provider scheduling practices cost hospitals and health systems millions.

We’re all aware of the growing pressure on hospital executives to reduce costs and improve hospital productivity. A worsening physician shortage, declining operating incomes, lower reimbursements, and smaller patient volumes are just a few reasons healthcare executives are looking for new solutions to increase productivity. A 2018 Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) and Navigant survey found that 78% of hospital executives believe their organization’s labor budget will grow in the next year. Additionally, 18% of these executives believe the increase in labor costs will be over 5% for their organization. With the average cost of labor budgets hovering at 54.2% of total operating budgets as of 2012, organizations may already have seen labor to rise to 60% or more of their overall operating budgets.

How does your organization plan to tackle growing labor costs in the next year? In the same survey, hospital executives named the two top cost management initiatives productivity improvement and workflow redesign. The bottom line: hospitals and health systems need to improve productivity, cut costs, and relieve staff of growing administrative workloads. One key solution for maximizing your organization’s output and minimizing costs is AI-powered physician scheduling.

Three Ways Optimized Provider Scheduling Improves Hospital Productivity

Hospitals and health systems that optimize physician scheduling practices could see increased productivity across their organization, including:

  1. Reduced time spent creating increasingly complex clinical schedules
  2. Improved provider satisfaction and a decrease in costly clinical turnover
  3. A greater understanding of clinician supply and patient demand
Reduce time spent creating complex schedules

Countless factors impact scheduling across hospitals, health systems, and medical specialties. Staffing requirements, time-off requests, shift equity, schedule length and more all contribute to the difficult task of efficiently scheduling physicians. As a result, manually creating clinical schedules has become incredibly difficult, requiring hundreds of hours per year.

Still, research shows that more than 45% of U.S. hospitals create schedules manually, using spreadsheets or even paper. At times, organizations even assign a physician to create clinical schedules, diverting their time away from delivering patient care. Reduce the headaches of manual scheduling and give your staff back valuable time with our scheduling solution.

In 2015, we helped UK HealthCare’s hospitalist division rebuild their scheduling process and reduce time spent managing schedules by 82%.

Increase provider satisfaction and decrease costly turnover

Due to the time constraints of creating complex schedules, many hospitals and health systems are settling for less-than-optimal schedules. Poor scheduling practices leave providers unsatisfied, working inequitable shifts and lacking transparency and control over their practice schedule. Inevitably, this leads to a decrease in provider satisfaction and increases a physician’s risk of experiencing burnout.

It’s well-documented that a lack of work-life balance and physician satisfaction are leading causes of turnover. However, more organizations are discovering the financial implications of physician burnout. A recent Stanford Medicine study estimated that turnover could cost their organization $15.5 million to $55.5 million over two years as the physician shortage drives up the cost of recruiting new providers.

To make matters worse, the growing cost of physician recruitment shows no signs of slowing down. New data from the Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032. In light of these growing costs, hospitals and health systems need to consider how new technologies like optimized scheduling could create better practice experiences for providers while increasing provider satisfaction and retention. How much money could your organization lose this year to turnover?

Align clinician supply with patient demand using prescriptive analytics

While freeing up staff time and improving retention are important benefits, we know that operations leaders want solutions to drive data-driven change across their organization. With the powerful analytics tools available in Lightning Bolt, you can access the data your organization needs to meet business objectives and increase productivity. Using prescriptive analytics, the Lightning Bolt platform helps you align clinician supply with patient demand to avoid patient leakage and optimize the use of your most valuable resource—clinical staff.

With the data available in Lightning Bolt physician scheduling technology, hospitals and health systems can analyze the gap between patient demand and clinician supply to cut waste and increase patient access. Easily answer difficult operations questions like:

  • Which days are the number of clinicians on staff above and under the projected demand in patient appointments?
  • How close did we get to meeting patient demand this year compared to last year?
  • What is the expected number of appointments seen per provider based on their schedule?

With rules that consider clinician productivity and specializations, we help healthcare organizations schedule their clinical workforce as efficiently as possible.

Ready to enhance your hospital or health system’s scheduling practices?

At Lightning Bolt, we’re constantly working to advance the science behind better physician shift schedules to help organizations meet goals. Speak to an expert to learn more about how Lightning Bolt can optimize healthcare operations for your organization. Better yet, request a demo of our solution and see for yourself the benefits our technology can deliver.

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