I recently read an article in Harvard Business review about “How to Manage Scheduling Software Fairly”. I was surprised by how many scheduling software implementation problems Starbucks workers and On-Call physicians have in common.
Man vs “the machine”. Starbucks uses automated software to schedule its 130,000 baristas, which tends to give them last-minute schedule notice and, too frequently, schedules night-closing back-2-back with morning-opening in order to “optimize” its workforce. By taking into account “more data than any human could process”, Starbuck’s software is able to schedule shifts in 15 minute increments to maximize staff/patron coverage. While great for profits, this tight “on demand” solution creates havoc with baristas’ at-home schedules and relationships. Talk about stress and unhappiness!
Like Starbucks, Clinics have to balance the needs of their patients (patrons) with the needs of the business and physicians (staff). Clinics also turn to automated scheduling to solve the problem instead of manually plotting each provider into shifts on paper or excel. This frees expensive physician-scheduler time and can help balance the on-call schedule needs of the Emergency Department and physician at home. But is “magical” once-click scheduling a reality? Is it really possible to have just-in-time scheduling of staff?