The number of possible physician shift schedules can be greater than the number of atoms in the universe due to the combinatorial complexity of staffing requirements, time-off requests, shift equity, and varying FTE statuses, among other variables. See how Lightning Bolt’s AI-driven, rule-based technology considers every conceivable outcome to generate the best possible shift schedule for your teams.

cross country map

A Rule-Based Scheduling Engine Built on True AI

Google Maps can calculate a route from San Francisco to New York City in 1.01 seconds, considering live traffic, construction, and weather conditions, using AI to optimize the entire drive. For physician shift scheduling, Lightning Bolt uses the same AI combinatorial optimization to consider every possible outcome across our clients’ 400+ average scheduling rules. And just like Google can update the cross-country route in real-time as variables change and stops for gas or food are added along the way, our technology instantly adjusts the schedule to accommodate shift changes and time-off requests.

This level of optimization is only possible because Lightning Bolt utilizes the most advanced AI instead of what others market as “layer” scheduling. With a layered approach, the full potential of AI isn’t realized because the trip is calculated only one state at a time, not thinking ahead to optimal routes, traffic patterns, or weather conditions and failing to consider future roadblocks that could have been avoided with an alternate route. Embracing the true complexity of physician scheduling with technology that enhances administrators’ workflow is where the real ROI is generated for healthcare organizations — where we find shift schedules that expand patient access, combat physician burnout, reduce costs, and improve outcomes.

Align Healthcare Organization and Clinical Staff Needs

With physician burnout rates at an all-time high and increasing projections of physician shortages, healthcare is facing a unique challenge — delivering quality patient care without overworking clinical staff. Lightning Bolt’s sophisticated technology allows administrators to prioritize scheduling rules on a granular level according to the policies, needs, and preferences unique to their individual organization. By assigning specific priority values to each rule, the Lightning Bolt system knows which rules it can break during auto-generation without compromising patient care.

For example, a common high priority rule is setting minimum staffing requirements to ensure adequate patient coverage, while a lower priority rule might be not scheduling Dr. Smith on Tuesday evenings so he can attend his child’s soccer games. As long as another eligible provider is available to fill the Tuesday night shift, Dr. Smith won’t be scheduled to work, simultaneously promoting work-life balance and quality patient care.

Rule by priority
scheduling platforms

Manage Requests Like Never Before

Lightning Bolt streamlines the request management process, providing a centralized location for submitting and managing providers’ schedule change requests. Depending on the system’s setup, requests may be auto-approved according to set rules defined by the healthcare organization or requests may require administrator approval. Our sophisticated Request Manager tool brings added transparency and efficiency to the request management workflow to reduce administrative burden, promote provider work-life balance, and support schedule equity for holidays and vacation time.

Read more: How one medical group achieved a 99.7% approval rate for time-off requests

“The software seems to be getting better and better at making a schedule. I am finding I have to do very little manual scheduling anymore which is really great. Keep up the great work. You guys have a fantastic product.”

– Byron Miller, M.D.

St. Mary Medical Center

Learn How Other Industries are Using Rule-Based Scheduling Best Practices

Professional sports leagues and the airline industry have adopted sophisticated technology to solve
massive scheduling puzzles. Using the same combinatorial optimization technology used to set the NFL
season and airport gate times, Lightning Bolt automates the physician shift scheduling process.

Major League Baseball’s lessons for hospital shift scheduling

The MLB uses rule-based scheduling to prevent player burnout, equally distribute weekend games, and adapt to last-minute changes.


NFL reveals hidden complexity in seemingly simple scheduling

See how the NFL embraced a complex scheduling process and unlocked tremendous value using advanced scheduling rules.


What pilots and quarterbacks can teach medical groups

Rule-based AI is being used to solve some of the most complex supply and demand challenges across industries.