Not all Scheduling Solutions are the Same – a StaffReady Success Story

By Katelyn Hipwell, PharmD, MPH

October 15, 2021

The number one priority for the employees I manage is their schedule.  We provide 24/7 operations, and without a clear schedule posted in advance, my team members would be unable to plan their lives or come to work prepared, much less focus on patient care. 

Creating, organizing, and publishing a pharmacy department schedule is a complex, ongoing management responsibility.  My focus is producing a schedule that clearly designates who is doing each task for each day at every time of the day.  Right person, right place, right time.

When making staffing decisions, you need a village approach to adequately take care of high acuity patients as well as your fellow pharmacists and technicians.  We have approximately 200 team members to schedule, inclusive of pharmacists and technicians.  Everyone needs to know who is working with them to use their resources appropriately. 

Most days, I open StaffReady first thing in the morning to ensure I know who to reach out to about any issue that arises or provide a heads-up about any changes for specific patient care populations.  All my frontline team members do the same when they arrive at work or have looked at the schedule before arriving to know the lay of the land for the day. 

We publish the schedule six weeks at a time and six weeks in advance, so the staff know their schedule twelve weeks ahead of time.  Thanks to robust features in the StaffReady leave management system, team members know every weekend and holiday they staff immediately upon hire.  Weekends and holidays teams are set whenever the staff member first starts working, and those don’t change unless there is a business need or request we can accommodate.  Our leadership teams have done substantial work over the years in establishing rules and guidelines upfront to allow easier advanced scheduling creation. 

The overall design of StaffReady creates success for patient care center staff members on knowing your fellow team members and being able to communicate effectively with each of them.  Crucial items of our schedule outside of specific shift designations are training, single verifier, code coverage, and on-call.  StaffReady allows me to create these additional items as shifts and assign them to team members.  All additional duties for the day are added to the team member creating a stacking effect. 

Regarding shifts and specific scheduling rotations, it seems obvious that a manager would want to be able to add multiple shifts or tasks to someone on a schedule based on regular operations or even collapsed operations. Oddly, that’s not true of all scheduling platforms.  Some scheduling platforms are tied to payroll and will not allow you the flexibility to add multiple overlapping shifts or tasks to team members.  By linking payroll with scheduling in this limiting manner, it creates more challenges when organizing and communicating staffing plans.  

If you’re not allowed to show that a team member is covering multiple services during the same shift time, it breaks down our clarity for who is performing what task throughout the day, causing confusion amongst the staff and management.  When I pilot new clinical or operational coverage and need all other team members to know who to contact for specific patient needs, one look at StaffReady, and everyone knows who to reach out to with questions.  (While StaffReady does allow for optional payroll integration, that data exchange is voluntary and increases efficiency while maintaining staff-focused features.)

Advance planning and publishing for scheduling is the goal, but the best-laid plans often need to be tweaked later on after publication occurs.  Collapsed coverage of services might be planned in advanced or need to happen in the moment, based on a variety of unseen issues.  Say you need to rearrange an already published schedule and communicate quickly due to call-outs, medical emergencies, or quarantining from the pandemic.  Not only am I able to go into StaffReady to move shifts around, but I can also set automatic communication notices to be sent to team members. 

Communication and the ability for others to know the layout of task coverage is vital especially during the pandemic when the chances for things to change quickly are high.  Leveraging StaffReady to adjust schedules and stack shifts or duties with advance notice or in real-time has helped to keep everyone on track.  Communication of schedule changes, leave request status or other schedule-related items is clear, speedy, and includes a helpful audit trail of when messages are sent and received.

Overall, the job of managing the schedule for our department has always been taken seriously by our leadership team. StaffReady allows us to put our staff-forward values into place easily with a software solution that allows for scheduling flexibility and visibility, excellent internal communication, and data management in the cloud. We’re able to manage our team and resources better due to our partnership with StaffReady.

Ready to see how StaffReady's scheduling solution can help you? Click the link below to speak to one of our solution experts today:

Chat with us

Katelyn Hipwell, PharmD, MPH

Katelyn Hipwell is the Pharmacy Clinical Operations Manager at the University of Virginia Health System, a position she has held for five years.