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April 22, 2020 | Time and Attendance | Posted by Ascentis Thought Leadership

Things Health Care Providers Should Know about Managing Time and Attendance

Creating a flexible, functional scheduling strategy is a perennial challenge for just about every human resource team, but few industries feel that pressure more than health care. With unconventional hours, constant demand, and a broad variety of required skills, health care scheduling presents a unique set of challenges for your time and attendance system.

Looking at the numbers

This is an issue that impacts virtually every health care professional in America. For example, a 2016 survey found that 94% of nurse managers cite staff scheduling issues as a factor that negatively impacts employee morale. 70% of those surveyed were concerned that those scheduling problems could affect their level of patient care. As for specific issues with the biggest impact on their day-to-day operations, nearly 50% cited under staffing while another 40% pointed to last-minute changes in schedule.

Tellingly enough, that same study also found that only 19% of nurse managers reported using digital scheduling tools. 43% relied on manual processes, while a startling 23% did not use any scheduling tools at all. A full 80% said they were unaware of advanced scheduling technology that can offer accurate projections of staffing needs and patient demand months ahead of time, but nearly two-thirds said such technology would be helpful to their scheduling processes.

Clearly, the health care industry has some major catching up to do where advanced scheduling technology is concerned. Time and attendance software needs to be flexible enough to accommodate non-standard schedules while reducing the time and money spent administering those schedules. Here are a few areas where health care organizations can use technology to ease the strain of scheduling.

Get more employee input

In many organizations, scheduling decisions are put mostly or entirely in the hands of management. That makes some sense on the surface – scheduling managers are the experts at what they do, after all – but in a field with so many complex variables, it pays to give the staff more say over their schedules.

This might entail instituting a human resources information system (HRIS) including an employee self-service option that allows employees to easily update their personal information, view and adjust their upcoming schedules, submit time-off requests, and switch shifts with other staffers. This kind of hands-on scheduling option not only provides more visibility and flexibility, it also empowers health care workers who may be feeling frustrated by the kinds of scheduling difficulties mentioned above. More empowerment and job satisfaction for health care employees translates to more consistent quality of care for patients.

Plan ahead

Whether you’re working for a small family practice, a large hospital chain, or somewhere in between, the health care industry is a complicated business with a lot of moving parts. Sicknesses and unplanned absences are part of that equation. Implementing a human resources management system can help you track absences, organize and administer shift substitutions, and provide insights for planning and communicating an absence management strategy.

Health care is also impacted more directly than most industries by emergencies and disasters. When a crisis does inevitably strike, an up-to-date suite of time and attendance scheduling software helps ensure that qualified staff is available where and when they’re needed most. A strong analytics dashboard also helps management predict necessary staffing levels well in advance, keeping your organization ready to better serve your patients without overextending your system or your staff.

Provide the right tools

The intricacies of health care work make having the right tools for the situation essential. For instance, many health care roles require a great deal of mobility – moving from unit to unit within a hospital, traveling to multiple branch clinics, attending conferences, and so on. Employees whose jobs put them frequently on the move can benefit immensely from mobile solutions such as iPhone or Android apps that allow them to record tasks, log hours, and submit feedback from wherever they are.

For health care organizations that require higher levels of security and privacy, time and attendance tools like biometric time clocks, smart clocks, and mobile scanners help ensure that the right people have access to the right areas, while also eliminating common time-theft practices like buddy-punching and unauthorized time off.

Consider open access scheduling

Open access scheduling, sometimes also known as advanced access scheduling, is a patient-oriented scheduling philosophy that leaves a significant portion – as much as 75% -- of a doctor’s daily schedule open. This allows patients to schedule same-day appointments rather than booking their appointments weeks or months in advance. In turn, open access scheduling allows doctors and their staffs to address those patients’ needs on the same day without having to work overtime, subject patients to long wait times, or cut routine care appointments short in order to fit in patients with more urgent issues.

While open access scheduling has obvious benefits for both employees and patients, implementing it can be a challenge. Automating your time and attendance processes makes it easier to work through an appointment backlog by analyzing relevant scheduling data, generating projections of staffing needs, and helping to standardize and categorize incoming appointments. All of this helps ensure that the right staff is scheduled for the right shifts.

Efficient, effective health care time and attendance management will always be a challenge. For the sake of your employees, your patients, and your community, it pays to take as much of the difficulty out of scheduling as possible. See how Ascentis’ time and attendance solutions can streamline your processes and help you offer your highest standard of care.

With more than 35 years of experience in providing Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Ascentis thought leaders have become a respected source for insights, tips, and innovations in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space.