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On-call scheduling: 4 ways to boost patient care and satisfaction

February 6, 2020

From knowledgeable, personable staff to a comfortable environment, hospitals work to provide a positive experience for every patient who passes through their doors. Key to keeping everything running smoothly are processes that allow every department and care team member, from clinicians to operators to support and lab staff, to connect easily and quickly.

One surprising way to help increase patient care and satisfaction is through an analysis of your on-call scheduling system.

Access to a web-based on-call scheduling solution paired with a directory can impact everything from consult and medication requests to critical test result sharing to discharge approvals—and countless interactions in between. On-call scheduling and directory details truly become the heart of enterprise healthcare communications because the ability to reach the right staff members to share important information is the basis of well-functioning workflows.

Unfortunately, many hospitals still try to run their communications with outdated methods. Operators are trying to make critical connections with ineffective tools like printed staff directories and spreadsheet-based on-call schedules—which become outdated quickly—as well as reference information stored in multiple databases. To make matters worse, these institutions don’t have a way for staff to update contact information themselves.

What is on-call scheduling?

While many industries use on-call scheduling systems, they’re especially critical in healthcare. The basic role of on-call scheduling software is to establish around-the-clock staffing coverage in key areas of the hospital to carry out effective patient care. It’s essential that the right staff member, role, or team can be found quickly when the need arises—and that the schedule is kept up to date so that people aren’t contacted when they’re off duty, which can contribute to burnout.

The key to effective on-call scheduling is having accurate contact information available in the system, as well as the ability to send messages to staff right from the schedule. Having an on-call schedule that’s separate from directory information causes confusion and could delay treatment—and potentially result in a poor patient experience. When staff can utilize a seamless, efficient, and intuitive system, minimal effort is needed to reach the right person. An effective on-call scheduling solution helps ensure that the correct contact information and preferred device (smartphone, pager, etc.) for every staff member is easy to find, particularly during emergency or time-critical situations.

Here are a few notable benefits of implementing an online on-call scheduling system

1. Share important information with the right person around the clock

For a hospital to run smoothly, systems and people need to work together to share information and updates. Use an on-call scheduling solution that allows departments to access and update on-call schedules from a web-based portal. This schedule information is invaluable when shared across related systems so staff can reach the correct provider about patient test results, critical changes in vitals, pain management requests, and much more.

For hospitals who use Spok solutions, the on-call schedule integrates with secure messaging, critical test results management, clinical alerting, and call center management. Messages are stored in a full audit trail, which allows users to determine whether the on-call provider has received the communication. If necessary, messages and requests can be escalated to the next-available on-call staff member if the primary contact is unavailable. This helps ensure each patient receives the quickest and best care possible.

2. Boost patient care and satisfaction with more effective communications

When collaboration among physicians, nurses, and other staff is delayed, so is patient care. Patients aren’t happy waiting for hospital staff to find the right person, get access to their test results, or approve them for discharge once they know they’re able to leave. This dissatisfaction can be expressed in their HCAHPS survey responses, which could affect reimbursements. On-call scheduling software enables call centers and other departments to reach the appropriate staff member more quickly throughout the patient’s stay, resulting in faster response times, better coordinated care, and a more positive experience during what is likely a very difficult and stressful time.

3. Enable the call center to focus on caller service

With easy-to-use on-call scheduling software, contact center staff spend less time trying to figure out who’s on call and how to reach them and more time providing high-quality caller service. Find an on-call scheduling solution that enables your contact center to hand over control to individual departments. When departments can make ongoing updates themselves, it reduces the burden on your call center.

4. Seamless on-call scheduling supports your staff and your patients

Health systems are increasingly replacing paper-based on-call scheduling systems for enterprise software solutions to better support both their staff and their patients. If you have questions about how to get started with efficient on-call scheduling that enables smarter clinical workflows, contact Spok now. We know how important meaningful communication is, and we know exactly who benefits in the long run—your patients.

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Patient Satisfaction

By Susu Adriaens
Susu is a product manager at Spok. She is an experienced, tech-savvy creator who is passionate about developing products that focus on the human element of technology and solve real problems. Susu has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Minnesota.