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How to Design the Best Nursing Staff Scheduling Software?

Paul Kovalenko Paul Kovalenko | August 18, 2022 | 9 min

Patients spend approximately 86% of their time in the hospital with RNs (registered nurses). For this reason, the nurses must have a seamless and timely distribution of duties, which is what nursing staff scheduling software helps accomplish.

Many healthcare facilities have deployed nurse scheduling software to boost their operational efficiency. Scheduling software helps eliminate understaffing issues, boost productivity, and save the time spent on manual tasks. These perks are behind the rising demand for scheduling software. 

Did you know that the nurse scheduling software market size passed a staggering $198 million in 2019, and is expected to reach $450 million by 2026?

In this article, we’ll cover how to develop nurse scheduling software, what features the software needs, and what benefits it brings to your establishment. 

The Main Elements and Modules of Nurse Staff Scheduling Software

Having the right features onboard can help eliminate a wide variety of problems in your staffing process. 

Here’s a list of the must-have features in your scheduling software before we proceed with how to create nurse scheduling software:

Online Shifts Distribution

Online shift distribution allows everyone to see available shifts and review calendar updates in real-time. What’s more, the nurse manager does not have to notify everyone about new updates to the calendar or send email copies of the recent updates. Instead, they can access recent updates on the facility’s portal and plan their time accordingly. 

Available Shifts Alert

Someone always cancels their shift at the last moment. Sickness, family issues, and inevitable hardship often emerge with a warning. This leaves empty gaps in the calendar. An alert feature notifies the available professionals about the vacant gap that needs to be filled via email, text, or app notification. 

Employee Preferences and Time-Off Requests

Like other professionals, nurses struggle to balance their responsibilities at work with the demands of home life and personal obligations outside of work hours. An employee and time-off request feature enables them to mark their available, non-available, and semi-available dates so this information can be taken into account while planning the schedule. Nurses can also send day-off requests from within the app without the paperwork. 

Shifts Trading

This feature allows nurses with the same qualifications and skill level to trade shifts on their own, without causing a ripple in the planned schedule. 

Integrated Messaging

Integrated messaging is a quick way to contact all of the employees regarding the scheduling process: schedule changes, time-off requests, vacations, etc. Nurses will also be able to negotiate shift trades with each other without having to look up each other’s contacts.

Labor Reporting and Analytics

HR and nurse managers often find it difficult to track who is underworking or overworking, and who takes too many day-offs on simple spreadsheets and paper. Labour reporting and analytics in your scheduling software collect the information about each staff member on a single platform. Reporting and analytics also provide more detailed information, such as when there may have been an over- or understaffing so the management can understand the busiest and easiest days. 

Based on this feature, you can put limits on some nurses regarding picking up extra shifts, minimal shifts per month, or requesting day-offs. This feature also makes automatic payroll calculations and warns you when the overstaffing costs soar higher.  

Certifications and Skills Tracker

Nurses have different skills and certifications. Different tasks call for various skill sets and your scheduling software can help you assign the right person for the job. The certifications and skills tracker feature tracks the expiry dates of certificates, licenses, and skills. Nurses will receive alerts when the time comes to renew their knowledge and prevent them from signing up for new shifts until they’ve successfully renewed certificates. 

You can use the scheduling tool to sign nurses up for educational classes for their certificate and license renewal. 

Auto-Scheduler

Auto-scheduler uses a schedule template that takes into account labor analytics, skill and certification set, and nursing staff’s preferences to create a convenient schedule for everyone. Changes can still be made if needed. Auto-scheduling saves time for the management since they don’t have to do everything from scratch. 

Need help building a nurse scheduling app?
Reach out to Langate

How to Develop a Nurse Scheduling Software

Several stages of nurse scheduling app development will ensure your software’s success. It includes the following:

Profound Research

Research is essential for understanding what options you have and what your employees want to see in the nurse shift scheduling software. 

First, you will need to conduct market research. This involves assessing what nurse scheduling apps are out there and what features and designs they have. This way, you will have a clear understanding of what features are most essential and get inspiration for the design. 

Secondly,  research the needs of the employees, both admins who create the schedule and nurses. Ask about their most common nurse-scheduling problem and gather insights about their design preferences. 

Creation of a Plan

Gathering information is not enough for nursing staff scheduling app development, unfortunately. You have to analyze it and turn data into a solid software development plan. Describe all the features and design preferences you want, define what tech stack and staff you will need, and draw a roadmap. The roadmap will include tasks, approximate deadlines, and a budget. 

It is essential to create a plan: it will be easier to track everyone’s progress, avoid too many budget extensions and release your product faster. You are also less likely to be disappointed by the results or change the whole project midway. 

MVP Development  

An MVP stands for minimal viable product. In this context, it refers to a nursing work schedule software with the most essential features. This could be online shift distribution, extra shift alerts, and integrated messaging. Your MVP also covers the core design – like navigation, UX/UI, buttons, etc. 

Allow your nurses and admins to use it and give honest feedback about its functionality and usability. At this stage of nurse scheduling software development, you should be able to understand what needs to change before the development starts. It is much easier to change your MVP than it is to alter the finished product. 

Software Development 

Software development entails implementing all the planned features, paying attention to details in the design, and ensuring that the pre-planned roadmap is being followed. Software development is undertaken by developers and designers, although the project managers can be involved to keep the project running smoothly.

Testing

This stage will help you find problems before the full adoption of the application. It tests how the application will perform for different types of devices, in case of high load, etc. Testers or the quality assurance team will likely find some bugs. You do not want to discover them when the whole hospital is already depending on the software. 

Implementation and Maintenance

If all bugs are found and fixed, you can finally implement the solution. You will have to educate your staff on how to use the software and make sure that everyone has access to it. 

Afterwards, the software will still need maintenance. It does not take as many professionals, time, and resources to maintain the solution but it still needs to be done. Maintenance means that your software development team updates the solution, implements new security tools from new types of malware, fixes new bugs if there are any, and adds new features if needed. 

Maintenance is extremely important for the software to stay secure, relevant as long as possible, and suitable for new versions of operating systems and devices. 

Benefits of Nursing Scheduling Software for Healthcare Organizations

Custom nurse scheduling software demands resources, meaning staff, time, and money. However, its benefits are worth the investment. Still not convinced? Perhaps these benefits will change your mind.  

Increases Productivity

Nursing home scheduling software increases productivity in the following ways:

  • It saves time on shift scheduling. The process can be automated at least halfway and admins do not have to do everything from the ground up.
  • The built-in messaging and notifications minimize the time it takes to negotiate with nurses on filling extra shifts. 
  • Nurse scheduling software also eliminates under or overstaffing, which in turn improves the output of the departments. Research shows that patients who have been on a shift with less than 80% of acceptable staffing levels are 15% more likely to suffer from a healthcare-associated infection. On the other hand, overstaffing results in a wastage of time and money.

Boosts Employee Satisfaction

There’s a significant correlation between the usage of scheduling software and the level of nurses’ satisfaction with their job (p = .0001–.014). Scheduling software takes into account nurses’ preferences and allows them to avoid overtime as much as possible. It also makes their job less stressful since the tool will not leave them understaffed or short on a particular skill set. And you know that a happy and satisfied employee is the one who will stay for long and work more productively and passionately.

Saves Money

The technology reduces overtime, staff retention costs, and fines for employees whose certification expired. It also boosts your quality of care due to better staffing and happier and, consequently, more caring nurses. As a result, you can lower your advertisement costs since the word of mouth will work for you very well and without investments. 

Our Services

Do you want to create your custom nurse scheduling software and need technical expertise? Langate is here to help you. We have been in the healthcare software market for over 17 years now. We know what problems the healthcare industry faces and we are eager to discover and overcome the unique challenges of your healthcare establishment. 

Our HIPAA-compliant development center can help you build and design a nurse shift schedule software from the ground up and follow the data privacy laws in your state. Our team includes project managers who will help you manage the tech staff effortlessly, software consultants who will help you do the research, developers for any tech stack, and testers. 

At Langate, we focus on creating long-term partnerships with our clients. We are happy to help you maintain your existing nurse scheduling software and implement new features. 

Concluding Remarks

Now you know how to build nurse scheduling software and its benefits. If you don’t have your scheduling software in place, you’re missing out on employee satisfaction, workplace efficiency, and reduced wastage of time and money. 

Want to join other happy and efficient workplaces through your custom nurse scheduling software? Contact Langate and work with experts in their respective fields – project management, development, design, testing, and software research.

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