As the Hospitalist movement continues to grow rapidly, many hospitalist groups recognize the importance of ensuring that the individual preferences, strengths, and practice styles of their providers are taken into account while determining the work schedule for the practice. This is certainly true of any discipline but what makes it particularly difficult for hospitalist teams to achieve individualized schedules is the requirement that hospitalists must work for several consecutive days to achieve continuity of patient care. Often the vacation and downtime requirements of individual providers conflict with the patient census or acuity-based staffing. For example, the need to have a provider work seven or more consecutive days for continuity of care might conflict with a provider’s need for rest between shifts, vacation, or desired number of work shifts. Also, each individual provider’s needs must be balanced with the collective needs of all providers within the group. A schedule that does not achieve adequate balance results in poor continuity of care or compromises individual work-life balance, which in turn results in high burn-out rates and poor retention rates.
Lightning Bolt strikes this balance as uniquely defined for each hospitalist group. With Lightning Bolt’s Hospitalist scheduling software, you create profiles of individuals or groups of providers with preferences on the desired number of shifts or FTE percentages, the desired number of consecutive days worked followed by the desired number of days off, desired type of shifts, desired vacation days. The system thinks deeply, often looking at the implications of a scheduling choice several million steps ahead before it automatically produces the best schedule possible. During the configuration, end-users with the assistance of Lightning Bolt staff define the relative priority of requirements and rules so that in the likely situation that some rules conflict, the system uses the user-defined priority to resolve conflicting rules.
- Organizations do not need to rely on rigid templates that need to be tweaked or reinvented as the team size changes or the number of shifts change. Templates are rigid because they over-specify the group’s requirements. The reliance on rigid templates makes it difficult for growing hospitalist groups to adapt to changes due to growing staff or patient volume. With the Lightning Bolt, users minimally describe the institutional requirements and provider preferences allowing the system to flexibly produce schedules meeting those rules.
- With provider preferences and vacation requests already considered, schedules produced by the system are highly stable with fewer swaps needed between providers after the schedules have been finalized. With fewer changes in the schedule, the whole organization avoids the chaos that often results from the domino-effect of changes.
- Because provider schedules are important to providers, organizations rarely feel comfortable handing off the scheduling duty to administrative or IT staff. With Lightning Bolt, not only is delegation possible but if a provider does continue to oversee the schedule, his/her time on producing/maintaining schedules would typically be reduced by 90% over manual scheduling.