Optimizing Usage of Workforce Scheduler Extensions — Bringing It All Together

Scheduler Extensions Part 5

As with all software solutions, there are many things to think about within Workforce Scheduler Extensions — configuration options, reports, bells and whistles, and functionality. It can be a lot for one person to be responsible for. When facilities choose to have only one person as the keeper of the knowledge, the information becomes siloed. And what if that person ends up leaving? The success of the system is put at risk. That’s why I suggest having a team of people responsible for managing the software and covering the ongoing maintenance. But it shouldn’t stop with a core team of system administrators. Here are some of the suggestions I often discuss with clients about spreading the wealth.

Scheduler Extensions

Unit-Based Subject Matter Experts

Being on-site for many project go-lives over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with frontline staff as they start to use a new software solution. Even with excellent training resources, users often have questions. In today’s rapid-paced nursing world, staff can get frustrated if they don’t have a way to resolve or understand issues quickly. One way to address this is to have unit-based subject matter experts. These people might be staff who attend the initial classroom training, or some facilities choose to create their own training curriculum for them. When possible, units should consider having subject matter experts who are based on different shifts as well as those who are available on weekdays as well as weekends. This ensures that evening, night, and weekend staff feel supported as well. When these subject matter experts are in place, it gives a user who is struggling an immediate opportunity to resolve the issue and feel supported in using the system. Having these unit-based subject matter experts also gives them a sense of ownership and a desire for the system to succeed. They also tend to be more in tune with process-related issues of using the system and to communicate suggestions for improvements.

Provide structure for unit managers

I often work with clients who tell me their nursing unit managers wear many hats and are frequently pulled in many directions. I recognize that unit managers won’t be in the system every day; that’s not their role in ensuring success. But they can have a significant impact on the overall success. I believe finding a way that fits with their other responsibilities is key to driving overall compliance. I often suggest that unit managers set aside 10 to 15 minutes each week to do a quick review of their unit, how their charge nurses are utilizing the system, and whether they are entering information. This can be accomplished very quickly on the Workload Manager screen, using the patient list and quickly scrolling backward. Users familiar with the patient list can scan an entire week’s worth of information in under five minutes. This allows them to quickly and efficiently identify gaps in their data or perhaps specific users who may need reinforcement. 

Identifying those gaps and individuals is one side of the equation. The other is discussing those issues with the relevant parties. Besides better overall data, another benefit of having an engaged unit manager providing feedback to end-users is that end-users understand that the information is being looked at, valuable, and important to complete. This helps foster a message that consistent use of the system is important. Another helpful way to involve unit managers is to provide them with clear expectations about which reports will be used, how often they should be run, and where or with whom they should be reviewed. As I mentioned in Part 4 of the series, reporting often falls by the wayside. Providing unit managers with clear instruction ensures reporting stays front of mind.

Improve Communication

It’s not uncommon for multiple units to unknowingly experience the same issue — and this usually happens because the issue doesn’t get communicated outside any individual unit. One unit might find a solution to the issue, but if the unit doesn’t share what they’ve learned, the other units with the same issue will continue to struggle. There are three ways I suggest addressing these types of issues:

  1. Making the system a permanent agenda item in leadership meetings: Often, nursing leaders have a standing schedule for a meeting of some type, where managers meet to discuss a variety of issues. Making the system a standing agenda item ensures that issues from multiple units get discussed in a central location and solutions can be shared.
  2. Creating a specific meeting to discuss these issues: Another strategy I’ve used is to schedule a monthly meeting specifically for unit-based users or subject matter experts to discuss any issues they are encountering. This approach requires a single person, usually one of the system administrators, to lead and organize these meetings. Having a system administrator host these meetings also has the advantage of having one of your most knowledgeable staff able to answer more basic questions.
  3. Rounding: An alternative or adjunct to monthly meetings might be rounding. Also typically owned by one of the system administrators, rounding involves visiting each unit once a month or on some rotating schedule and asking end-users whether they are encountering issues. Rounding has the advantage of leaving end-users in their nursing units and meeting when it works best for them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on optimizing usage of Workforce Scheduler Extensions!

Other blogs in this series: