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Scheduling/Staffi ng

Staff scheduling synchronicity

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta implements a Web-based clinical staffi ng and scheduling system to maximize fi lled shifts and staffi ng effi ciency while lowering staffi ng costs by more than $2 million.

By Joyce Ramsey-Coleman, R.N., M.S., M.B.A . L

ike many a healthcare enterprise, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) was grappling with the challenges of meeting clinical needs with inad- equate staffi ng and scheduling processes. Widely considered to be among the best pediatric healthcare systems in the country, the three hospitals and 17 ancillary care loca- tions of CHOA also make it one of the largest. The healthcare enterprise’s staff of 7,400 serves more than 500,000 Georgia patients annually.

The largest Medicaid provider in the state, CHOA’s ongoing mission has been to transform pediatric healthcare in Atlanta to better serve its patients across the entire en- terprise.

The challenge

In late 2009, the healthcare enterprise’s transformational mission took the form of a proactive administrative and enterprise leadership endeavor known as “Vision Possible.” A major committee within this multifaceted approach was known as Staffi ng Effectiveness. At the time, CHOA was using a combination of paper-based scheduling processes and a complex computer-based scheduling system. Both were proving to be highly ineffective at managing clinical staff resources.

The committee’s mandate was to unify staff scheduling across the enterprise via a single automated staff-scheduling system. This would allow CHOA to easily match clinical staffi ng to patient needs across all three hospitals. The sys- tem would need to allow department nurse managers and schedulers to simply and effectively put staff where they were needed based on volume, acuity and sick calls. Additionally, the system would need to facilitate reduction of overtime, transition the premium-pay incentive model to a bidding process and reduce the use of agency nursing pools. The scheduling system would ultimately need to move beyond the inpatient world to totally maximize staffi ng effi ciency. This meant being able to integrate, monitor and streamline scheduling across all departments and hospitals.

Making the choice The Staffi ng Effectiveness committee began the system

24 April 2012

selection process by distribut- ing a survey to nurse manag- ers and schedulers across departments and hospitals to identify system needs. This was used as an evaluation tool for potential vendors. The fi nal selection process involved more than 30 nurs- ing managers and schedulers from various departments. Of the four vendor solutions reviewed for possible selection, the group chose ShiftSelect, a Web-based software-as-a- service (SaaS) staffi ng and scheduling system from API Healthcare.

Joyce Ramsey-Coleman is chief nurse executive at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. For more on API Healthcare:

ShiftSelect was uniquely designed to facilitate enterprise- wide visibility and integration of staff scheduling while simultaneously empowering the staff with fl exibility and a level playing fi eld. This combination of attributes would al- low CHOA to effectively fi ll staffi ng needs regardless of staff and patient fl uctuations. In addition to its ability to address all present and future needs, the selection group cited Shift- Select’s simplicity of use as well as its short implementation and training cycle.

Implementation and rollout

In January 2010, a senior operations team was presented with the recommendation plan that included projected goal achievements and ROI of the new automated scheduling system. This plan took into account the simultaneous evalu- ation and multi-year implementation of a separate time and attendance system, which would ultimately be integrated with the workforce-management solution. API Healthcare’s client services executive (CSE) made three trips to CHOA to facilitate the implementation and rollout of the automated system. In the fi rst visit, the CSE worked with CHOA’s application administrator to customize the staffi ng system departmental profi les. This was accom- plished with crucial input from nurse managers and schedul- ers. It was in this session that skill sets were developed for each department/unit.

It was determined that a four-phase rollout divided into six-week intervals would prove to be the most effi cient model.


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