How to Create An Effective On-Call Schedule


July 30, 2020

Scheduling has never been easy. In the fast-paced healthcare field, things are always shifting in a variety of directions -- scheduling being at the top of the list. However, many hospitals, clinics, and other medical care facilities that need on-call scheduling are operating under antiquated systems. Old traditional methods of whiteboards, spreadsheets, and weekly emails aren’t doing the job. This type of on-call scheduling lacks the effectiveness and responsiveness needed in the quickly changing environment of healthcare. 

Developing a dependable on-call schedule cements an organization’s commitment to reliability, consistency, and high-quality care. The most effective way to do this involves the infusion of technology into a healthcare organization’s system. By leveraging an on-call scheduling application, team members are able to access and be notified at a moment’s notice from both a mobile device or computer. This type of system enables organizations to focus on provided care, instead of the mundane logistics of day-time-person schedule setting. 

Benefits of App-Based On-Call Scheduling 

Why specifically should a healthcare organization completely deviate from its current on-call scheduling system? It is estimated that in North America alone, downtime costs businesses over $700 billion annually. When specifically looking at healthcare, not only is money lost or wasted, but individuals’ lives are in jeopardy when an insufficient number of staff members are present or available. 

The notion that on-call scheduling needs improvement is nothing new. How to revamp the process is the question. Before laying out how to create an effective on-call schedule strategy, here are the benefits presented by an app-based solution: 

  • Instant Messaging to On-Call Staff 
  • Automatic On-Call Routing 
  • Quick and Responsive Scheduling Adjustments 
  • Seamless Integration with Call Centers 
  • Calendar Sharing with External Parties 

All while being HIPAA compliant, on-call scheduling done via an app-based product allows healthcare organizations to see more satisfaction in the day-to-day of their employees. Institutions transitioning to this form of scheduling have reported: 

  • Improved Work-Life Balance 
  • Less Burnout 
  • Higher Employee Retention 
  • More Transparent Work Culture 
  • Better Patient Care 

On-Call Schedule Strategy 

Assuming your healthcare organization makes the switch to an app-based on-call scheduling system, how do you develop an effective strategy for it? Four important factors to consider include team size, department resources, time of year, and work-life balance.  

All four components need to be mindful of each other as a systemic relationship is necessary to see a truly effective strategy. 

Team Size 

To start, take stock of your personnel. It is critical to analyze where your team stands in both ability and physical numbers. When crafting an on-call schedule you must not over schedule members or under schedule for your institution’s necessary productivity. 

Department Resources 

Not every department may be equal in your healthcare institution. Some services require a greater number of doctors, nurses, and support staff. Therefore, your on-call schedule strategy needs to be flexible and customizable to every aspect of your organization. Be conscious when allocating your team members’ shifts in order to ensure every department’s resource needs are met 24/7 - 365.

Time of Year 

Your healthcare institution requires more personnel and active hours during specific times in the year. For example, cold and flu season may require your organization to schedule more on-call staffers than other times during the year. Maybe your healthcare institution is in a travel destination, which is also often seasonal. Knowing how your community sees influxes in healthcare needs is vital to a positive on-call plan. 

Work-Life Balance 

Finally, on-call scheduling needs to keep employees’ physical and mental health in mind. On-call scheduling is often sporadic and can affect natural sleep habits. In order to properly protect employees’ health and job satisfaction, scheduling must guard and respect the outside lives their team members have. Therefore, avoid overscheduling and share unfavorable shifts across the board. 

Request a Free Demo of QliqSOFT 

As the world leader in HIPAA compliant text messaging and EVV technology, we can help ensure your organization meets all mandate requirements. Contact us today at (866) 295-0451 about a free demo, or how to start implementing our technology at your health company!

The Author
Ben Henson

A lifelong communicator, this Tennessee native got his start in broadcast news before branching out into public media, corporate, communications, digital advertising, and integrated marketing. Prior to joining QliqSOFT as the company's first marketing team member, Ben shared his talents with organizations that include the University of Alabama, iHeartMedia, and The Kroger Company.

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