How To Rapidly Deploy a Scheduling Solution Across a Large Health System

St. Luke’s Health System

Based in Boise, ID

Implemented Solution
Lightning Bolt Scheduling


Story Highlights

  • St. Luke’s Health System had just three months to replace their current scheduling solution, which was being discontinued. They were also expanding rapidly, with the number of providers on their roster growing every day. They needed a quick implementation with a scheduling solution that could easily accommodate their expected growth.
  • The Lightning Bolt team took a “rapid enterprise deployment approach” when they brought St. Luke’s live on their scheduling platform across all 11 locations.
  • As part of the rollout, the implementation team identified and trained super users who could then train their St. Luke’s colleagues on the ins and outs of Lightning Bolt.
  • With Lightning Bolt, St. Luke’s found a source of scheduling truth that optimized schedules across their health system, improved patient care, and gave them access to helpful analytics and shift analyses.


St. Luke’s Health System is a non-profit hospital network founded in 1902 that serves southern Idaho, eastern Oregon, and northern Nevada. The Idaho-based system was established as a multi-location health system in 2006 and today encompasses eight medical centers, over 370 clinics and facilities, and many other laboratory locations. St. Luke’s has more than 2,100 providers and just over 1,000 beds.


St. Luke’s was using a scheduling vendor whose product was being discontinued over a short period of time. But even before this development, they felt the product was lacking. It didn’t offer organized schedule views, meaning it was difficult to sort schedules by department, group, etc. Providers also found that the solution didn’t make it easy to find relevant contact information for their colleagues. The time had come for a new, automated system that could do more than just host on-call schedules.

As a multi-site health system, St. Luke’s needed a solution capable of optimizing schedules across locations that could also be implemented quickly. The ideal solution would be user-friendly and easy to learn for providers in their short turnaround time of just three months, and it needed to be more than a one-to-one replacement for the previous on-call scheduling solution—it needed more functionality. And because St. Luke’s was growing at a rapid pace—the number of providers in the system grew from 1,100 to nearly 2,500 in the span of a few months—they also wanted a solution that could scale easily to match growth.

A few groups within the St. Luke’s system had already transitioned to Lightning Bolt for on-call scheduling and had experienced great results with quick and easy implementations. Because of this, St. Luke’s elected to make Lightning Bolt its sole source of truth for scheduling, with plans to use the solution not only for on-call scheduling, but also for provider shifts across the health system and across shift types.

The Lightning Bolt team designed a “rapid enterprise deployment approach” that allowed for successful training and deployment within the health system’s aggressive timeline.

The Implementation Process

Easing the Transition

Finding and implementing a new solution can be a daunting process, especially when you’re evaluating a new vendor. Too often, this means a drawn-out implementation, a steep learning curve, and all of the complexities that come with building a new vendor relationship. PerfectServe and its Lightning Bolt team know a thing or two about implementations, so they worked with their counterparts at St. Luke’s to design a “rapid enterprise deployment approach” that allowed for successful training and deployment that met the health system’s aggressive timeline.

This approach is designed to expedite implementation while ensuring all users still get sufficient Lightning Bolt training. The subject matter expert (SME) team worked to onboard 1,100 on-call providers on May 1, 2021, using Lightning Bolt to create on-call schedules. Just a few months later, St. Luke’s finished onboarding the rest of their 2,468 total providers. At that point, they were using Lightning Bolt to schedule all providers and shift types.

Empowering Users Across the Enterprise

There were a few factors that contributed to a successful three-month implementation. First, the Lightning Bolt team identified and trained super users, who then served as trainers for their colleagues. These super users were key to the rapid deployment schedule, and they took the unique step of supplementing the Lightning Bolt team’s efforts by holding their own office hours so providers and other care team staff could come directly to them with questions. Though Lightning Bolt offers around-the clock support, this extra layer of internal support from super users allowed St. Luke’s to reduce the number of IT tickets submitted to Lightning Bolt while giving them plenty of opportunities to identify potential glitches in the system.

Tools to Encourage Adoption

Because high adoption and utilization are necessary for a successful implementation, Lightning Bolt follows a process to ensure both metrics stay on track. For example, the implementation team works with customers to monitor which practices are still calling the practice manager to make schedule updates. This highlights users who likely aren’t comfortable using the technology yet.

Lightning Bolt also offers login reports to help customers identify the users who may need more training and support. This data offers insight into which users are interacting with the full range of Lightning Bolt’s functionality, such as making real-time changes to schedules. The report—which can be pulled on both the mobile and desktop applications with help from the Lightning Bolt team—can be used as a barometer for practice managers and operations leaders as they gauge the progress made throughout implementation. The scheduling solution St. Luke’s used previously did not offer a mobile app, and it lacked Lightning Bolt’s analytics capabilities, so the new setup is more intuitive for users and offers more granular insights about how to encourage adoption.

As Lightning Bolt was implemented across the St. Luke’s enterprise, dedicated consultants were assigned to the most complex departments to work through issues that arose and address any additional training needs. St. Luke’s also has its own team of SMEs who collaborate with the Lightning Bolt team to support smaller groups when needed. Today, Lightning Bolt holds biweekly check-in meetings with the main analyst on the St. Luke’s SME team to ensure everything is running smoothly.

Strong Partnership from the Start

Lightning Bolt was able to import all scheduling information from the previous vendor to jump start the change in schedule management. They also formed close relationships with a variety of clinical users across the St. Luke’s system, which had a dual purpose. First, these users could give the Lightning Bolt team valuable real-time feedback about the implementation, including big wins and areas that needed improvement. Second, this became a valuable conduit for best practice sharing, whereby Lightning Bolt consultants could advise the St. Luke’s team to make sure the solution was optimized for the unique needs of every system location. With dedicated training teams in place, a successful implementation completed, and 24/7/365 support from the Lightning Bolt team, St. Luke’s was off to a strong start.


With Lightning Bolt implemented and a strong partnership established between vendor and client, St. Luke’s quickly started to see real-world results from the project:

Schedule Clarity: A Source of Truth

St. Luke’s now has one configurable source of truth for all on-call schedules and continues to actively optimize its use—a critical improvement for the health system. Each location has a customized list view of all providers in each location, and they’re organized coherently by department and specialty. This view includes fields for other assignment information, such as provider preferences on communication sequence like their preference to be contacted by pager or a messaging app.

Key Integrations Enhance Scheduling Workflows

With any clinical software solution, the ability to integrate with other technologies—especially existing IT, clinical, and telecom systems—often leads to more efficient workflows and better information sharing. Lightning Bolt supports a wide range of integrations, several of which are on display at St. Luke’s:

  • Credentialing: St. Luke’s uses the credentialing system HealthStream, which is integrated with Lightning Bolt to automatically sync provider information in real time, including when a new phone is used.
  • Provider Compensation: The provider compensation team uses Lightning Bolt to analyze all working shifts to ensure providers are accurately paid for the work they complete. By taking on-call data from Lightning Bolt’s up-to- date schedules, the compensation team can verify that provider compensation is accurate.
Improved Patient Care Times

Like almost every healthcare organization, St. Luke’s is always on the lookout for ways to improve its speed to care metrics. With Lightning Bolt, greater shift transparency was directly correlated with more timely patient care.

  • St. Luke’s hosts a custom intranet page so anyone who engages with the schedule can access shift information from anywhere at any time. This schedule is updated in real time, so there’s no guesswork about provider location, who’s on call, or which provider is the next in line to contact if the first-call provider doesn’t respond. Fewer communication obstacles means patient care can proceed much more efficiently.

Group-Specific Schedule Optimization

Lightning Bolt’s rule-based, infinitely customizable schedule automation capabilities came in handy across a number of groups within the St. Luke’s system. Different specialties often have very different day-to-day operations, and the Lightning Bolt team was able to work closely with their St. Luke’s counterparts to build group-specific rules that yielded optimized schedules at every location. Two examples highlight how this flexibility plays out in real life:


The St. Luke’s Pulmonology group schedules 18-20 providers across 14 shifts in a seven-day rotation pattern. Within Lightning Bolt, there are rules that auto-schedule the providers on that rotation based on what their schedule for the previous few weeks looked like. The rotation is broken into 10 weeks of working shifts and four weeks of vacation. In addition to this rotation, the providers are on call across four different locations every day. Again, Lightning Bolt has rules for the group that auto-schedule these on-call shifts based on which shift in the rotation they’re working on a given day. Together, these rules allow Lightning Bolt to weave together various requirements to support Pulmonology’s weekly rotation of shifts and its 24-hour call obligations.

Clinic Hospitalists

The St. Luke’s Clinic Hospitalists group schedules roughly 60 providers made up of Nights, Full-Time, and Part-Time providers. For their schedule, they split providers into two teams: Team A and Team B. These teams work seven days on and seven days off at different times, and they get slotted in with their colleagues according to their team assignment. The group utilizes Lightning Bolt’s customizable rules to auto-generate their schedule in five layers, with some manual entry beyond layer 2: Nights, Backbone, Full-Time, Part-Time, and Open. Each layer has different providers, assignments, and rules that get added to the schedule until the entire schedule is complete. The Open layer is the final layer—it adds a placeholder tag (labeled “Open”) on all shifts that are left unfilled. These tags give providers an easy point of reference for open shifts they can request to work.

These two examples are not exhaustive. The Lightning Bolt team helped St. Luke’s optimize schedules for many groups, from cardiology to urology to wound care. In each case, the rules are built to support the unique workflows of the group. That’s the power of a rule-based scheduling solution powered by combinatorial optimization!

Advanced Reporting and Analytics

St. Luke’s was also able to take advantage of the data in the Lightning Bolt platform to dive deeper into schedule analytics. For example, the St. Luke’s team can use Lightning Bolt’s analytics tools to manage license counts and generate reports to track which departments have not published a schedule in Lightning Bolt yet.

Other analytics features include the ability to generate department-specific reports. In one case, Pulmonary Care uses department reports to split up inpatient and clinic shifts to ensure accurate provider compensation. Reports generated can ensure each provider is accurately compensated based on the shift worked, down to the department, specialty, and shift date and time.


For operations leaders and other health system decision makers, the prospect of using technology to improve cumbersome processes is tantalizing. But too often, new technology means a lengthy implementation, a steep learning curve, and the task of building a trusting relationship with a new vendor. Some health systems end up asking themselves if making the switch to a new vendor is actually worth the pain of replacing the old one.

With over 20 years of experience implementing scheduling technology, the Lightning Bolt team is all too familiar with these concerns. Especially during times of quick change—such as unexpectedly having to move from one solution to another in just three months—process improvements need to come from a partner with the right level of expertise who is flexible enough to meet the specific needs of your organization. The complexities of ensuring all users are trained, rules are built, integrations are properly connected, and organizational requirements are met can only be managed with careful planning and a high-functioning customer-vendor relationship.

St. Luke’s was in a time crunch, but they also wanted to level up their scheduling game. They found a proper match with Lightning Bolt’s rule- based solution and its team of collaborative, customer-first scheduling experts. Even though new chapters are still being added to the St. Luke’s-Lightning Bolt story, the common themes will always be cutting edge technology, a close partnership, and innovative thinking that lead to better outcomes for patients, providers, and everyone in between.

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