Managing a team of nurses can be challenging, especially when it comes to creating a schedule that works for your staff and your patients.
With that in mind, using nurse scheduling software can help make your job easier. Here’s what to look for in this type of software and a few of the best options to consider.
Why Use Nurse Scheduling Software?
Creating a nursing schedule is a complicated process. You have to make sure there are the appropriate type and number of staff to match patient volume, cross-reference employees’ availability, and make adjustments based on changes in staffing or number of patients.
Doing this by hand or with a basic spreadsheet can be both time-consuming and frustrating, especially if last-minute adjustments need to be made to the schedule.
However, the right software can make nurse scheduling significantly easier, and that can save you valuable time. Automating the scheduling process also reduces the chance of error or miscommunication.
In turn, your facility is more likely to have the appropriate staff for your shifts, which improves both your patients’ outcomes and your employees’ satisfaction.
What to Look for in Nurse Scheduling Software
That all said, not all nurse scheduling software is created equal. When researching software for your facility, keep an eye out for the following features:
- Easy to use. While any new program will come with a learning curve, you want it to be user-friendly and straightforward. The whole purpose is to save time, so you don’t want your staff to get frustrated or spend even more time than it saves trying to learn the new system.
- Predictive analytics. Predictive analytics can optimize the scheduling process by predicting your patient demand weeks (or even months) in advance. That can prevent your facility from being understaffed. You’ll need to input accurate historical data and metrics for this to work effectively.
- Cost-effective. The definition of “cost-effective” will depend largely on your budget and the size of your facility. However, facilities of all sizes should consider the price of the software, including upfront costs and any subscription fees or other recurring costs.
- Automates creation and generation of staff schedules. Many programs can automatically create staff schedules based on the information you enter manually, such as availability and credentials. This feature can save you a great deal of time, as you only need to check the schedules for accuracy rather than build them from scratch.
- Notifies staff of changes/updates to their schedules. With manual scheduling, notifying staff of scheduling changes or last-minute requests can be frustrating. Worse yet, if the message isn’t received or a miscommunication happens, you may find yourself short-staffed. Some software will automatically alert nurses to any updates to their schedules, eliminating these challenges.
- Integrates seamlessly with existing hospital/management solutions. If your facility already has (or is planning to adopt) other management solutions, look for software that integrates with these programs. This will save your organization time while minimizing potential errors or confusion that can come with multiple separate systems.
5 Best Nurse Scheduling Software
With countless nurse scheduling software options on the market, it can be tough to know where to begin searching. First, you should look at the management software you already have and check if they have scheduling options.
If they don’t, here are five of the best options available to get you started on your search:
Deputy is a popular tool among many sectors, including health care. The software allows you to manage and adjust schedules quickly, as well as assist with the management of payroll and paid time off.
It also offers both web- and cloud-based software, as well as smartphone capability, so you and your team can access schedules on-the-go.
2. ScheduleFlex by Shiftboard
Designed for health care and a range of other industries, ScheduleFlex by Shiftboard is a cloud-based software that is built around the hourly workforce. It allows for automatic scheduling and self-scheduling, as well as real-time communication between users.
3. Shift Admin
ShiftAdmin offers a user-friendly, web-based interface that can simplify many of the processes associated with scheduling. It not only automates schedule generation with even distribution of shifts, but it also streamlines scheduling requests, schedule sharing, and payroll.
While there is some setup (e.g., inputting data and metrics) at the start, it’s worth the effort to save you time in the long term.
SmartLinx is a web- and cloud-based program designed specifically for long-term and senior care. It connects your real-time processes and all your data across facilities to help you effectively manage schedules and ensure you have the necessary coverage for each shift.
5. TrackSmart Scheduling
TrackSmart Scheduling is compatible with both computers and smart devices, so your team can check their schedules on the go. In addition to schedule creation and payroll/attendance, the software also allows employees to self-schedule and swap shifts.
Implementing Nurse Scheduling Software
Once you’ve found the right nurse scheduling software for your facility, you’ll need to implement it in a way that meets yours and your team’s needs.
While software can make the scheduling process significantly easier, there’s still a human element. You’ll need to input staff availability, patient demand, and other data for the program to make accurate predictions.
You should always review any automated processes for errors and ensure they are accurate. Finally, keep in contact with your nursing team and make sure that they aren’t running into any issues with the software.
If you’re in charge of creating the schedule, you may seek software that allows you to make changes on-the-go. Programs with smartphone or web applications can be more functional for you and your team, as you can quickly check regardless of location or if you’re near a work computer.
You may also consider adding in “open shifts” for extra coverage on busy days. You can prioritize assigning these shifts by your nurses’ qualifications or location.
Your software may even be able to send an alert to all qualified employees and allow them to sign up for a given shift. This allows nurses that are available to take on extra shifts, while you get the coverage you need.
Is your health care facility looking for per diem nursing coverage? Clipboard Health offers staffing solutions to bring you peace of mind, while also saving you valuable time and money. Find out more about how we can help your facility, or contact us today to get started.