Healthcare Organizations: When Accurate Scheduling is Essential, Workforce Management Delivers
The healthcare industry is struggling with a workforce shortage at the moment. And it isn’t just physicians and nurses – there has also been a shortfall in non-clinical staff, including at contact centers. More than 60% of respondents to a Medical Group Management Association poll said they faced a lack of qualified applicants for non-clinical positions in the past year.
The labor situation places an extra challenge on healthcare contact centers, which must allocate limited human resources with optimal efficiency, so patient service is not jeopardized.
Creating workable schedules requires the balancing of paid time off, no-shows and personal schedules, while staffing the contact center appropriately to meet patient demand. Many healthcare organizations utilize workforce management for scheduling, but some of these systems were implemented 15 or 20 years ago, and do not offer the same capabilities of today’s WFM solutions.
In addition, given the high number of mergers and acquisitions that have occurred in the healthcare industry, it’s possible that the legacy WFM solutions already in place are not communicating with each other, or providing as clear a picture of the entire workforce.
Bringing WFM Up to Date
Accurate scheduling is important in every business, but in healthcare it may be life saving. Contact centers field questions and concerns from patients every day about conditions, appointments, prescriptions and health concerns that must be addressed promptly. This is not a place to cut corners, or rely on outdated technology.
Today’s workforce management solutions are the answer. They optimize schedule assignment by improving forecast accuracy, so all the necessary resources are always in place.
Other factors to consider when creating a schedule include skill-based routing – to make sure calls are received by the agent best qualified to take them, and agent preferences that should be accommodated whenever possible to boost company morale. Some healthcare contact centers still rely on spreadsheets to track scheduled time, agent availability, and such daily occurrences as work breaks and training sessions. The same tasks can be accomplished more quickly and more accurately with WFM software, particularly at contact centers with more than 25 agents.
When the unexpected occurs, this is when today’s WFM solutions excel. One of the best features is intra-day management, a graphical display of real-time contact center activity that lets managers check their schedule accuracy. Fifteen minutes a day may not seem like much, but if agents are out of adherence that long every day, the result can be tens of thousands of dollars in additional staffing costs.
Acknowledging adherence issues and addressing them on tomorrow’s forecast is not enough. With intra-day management, managers can review agent schedules and change them by dragging and dropping breaks, lunches and other exceptions. Surpluses and shortages are displayed for each pre-set time period throughout the day, so managers instantly know which resources are available and how they are being utilized.
There are several factors that can influence the selection of a WFM solution. While all of them will increase efficiency and service levels, it’s important to achieve these goals while also reducing costs and accelerating ROI.
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