Hospital pharmacists must juggle multiple demands for their time against the finite number of hours available to them. As a result, automation that reduces the time spent on administrative tasks, increasing the value they provide to patients and the hospital.
One such administrative duty is the process of creating and managing staff schedules. This time-consuming and often thankless responsibility takes countless hours for front-line managers. While matching people to shifts seems straightforward, it becomes exponentially more complex as the number of staff and shifts increase, particularly when schedules must account for the ebb and flow of demand, variable skill levels and employee requests for time off.
Manual scheduling methods continue to fail most pharmacies with more than 10 to 15 staff members. Spreadsheets, manually maintained calendars, paper forms, and random emails for schedule changes or days off can quickly become difficult to manage. These different paper methods also increase miscommunication and reduce transparency, which can contribute to morale issues and impair productivity.
With automated, cloud-based scheduling technology, pharmacy managers can manage staffing levels and facilitate shift trades by enabling all pharmacy employees to see and confirm their schedules on any device, whether desktop or mobile. Schedule changes are visible to everyone in real time, eliminating miscommunications. 1
Staff can bid on open shifts, which helps to reduce overtime costs. If shifts remain or become open, managers can identify the gaps, see all employees’ work limitations and hours, and know who is available to call in, even from home or on the road.
An automated scheduling system allows staff to submit time off requests through the program. At the same time, it keeps track of who has had holidays off to ensure equitable distribution of less desirable days and shifts. The system timestamps requests, swaps, assignments and messages, so everyone can see the changes and receive notification, leading to improved communication and less last-minute scrambling for coverage.
For managers, the system offers built-in productivity tools. It shows at a glance which staff members call out sick or request time off the most. At the same time, the system can easily identify staff members that are eager to pick up shifts, which can help managers fill a time slot quickly, if necessary. For pharmacy managers with multiple locations, an automated system permits standardization of rules and can streamline scheduling across all facilities.
Automated scheduling technology dramatically reduces the time spent on scheduling, largely eliminating one of the biggest headaches for pharmacy managers while improving flexibility, transparency, accountability and communication across the organization.
Does your pharmacy use automated scheduling? What improvements have you seen as a result?
Babb K. Automating Staff Scheduling. Pharmacy Purchasing and Products. April 2015; 12(4):4.