COVID-19: Nimble Healthcare Provider Scheduling During the Pandemic
Every day brings new, heartbreaking evidence of the ways that COVID-19 is testing the U.S. healthcare delivery system. While frontline healthcare workers are performing heroically under intense pressure, those responsible for scheduling healthcare workers are also feeling the squeeze. It’s essential to provide schedulers with the tools they need to adapt to the rapidly COVID-19 landscape.
Ramping Up Capacity
Hospitals across the country are either ramping up staffing in anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 patients, or are nearly or very overwhelmed with desperately ill patients. As case numbers continue to rise in New York, for example, Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued a clarion call for physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other frontline healthcare workers. As a result:
- More than 78,000 retired New York healthcare professionals have stepped forward to help
- Fourth-year students from five New York medical schools are graduating early to work in New York hospitals
- Doctors and nurses from around the U.S. are winging their way to the Empire State to help overwhelmed healthcare professionals
Relaxing Licensing Requirements
These anecdotal accounts are, in part, an outgrowth of a relaxation of licensure requirements. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued waivers that allow licensed healthcare providers to deliver care to COVID-19 patients beyond their state of enrollment. This ensures payment for caring for Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. States are scrambling to adjust their licensure requirements to enable providers to deliver care during the pandemic. The result is a patchwork, with some states waiving licensure and other states requiring temporary licensure.
Schedulers at the Crossroads
Every hospital schedule is in flux, and schedulers are at the crossroads. In addition to adding retirees, out-of-state-providers, and newly minted medical students to the mix, schedulers are faced with filling in gaps when frontline healthcare workers succumb to the virus and are off the schedule for weeks at a time. Hospital system schedulers face additional challenges in incorporating COVID-specific groups or switching clinical schedules to telemedicine call schedules.
The unfortunate reality is that many hospitals continue to use pen-and-paper or spreadsheets to schedule physicians and healthcare teams. In the face of this pandemic, manual and near-manual processes simply aren’t sufficient. Each schedule change requires updating and disseminating a new schedule. In the fog of fighting this virus, providers simply don’t have time or energy to ensure that they have the latest version of the schedule.
Capacity fluctuations, together with an ever-evolving roster of personnel, demand a robust, automated scheduling solution. Once deployed, automated scheduling enables updates to be made in real time and schedules to be viewed by authorized users within or outside of a facility using any mobile or desktop device. The result? Less confusion, fewer mistakes, and a healthcare workforce that can focus less on schedules and more on saving the lives of those battling COVID-19.
MDsyncNET offers best-in-class web-based physician scheduling software. To help hospitals get up and running during the COVID-19 crisis, MDsyncNET will deploy the software at no cost. Once hospitals decide to take the next step, MDsyncNET will get the facility up and running in under a week.