Industrial Engineering

Schedule Stability is Critical to Achieving Work-Life Balance

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ISE Magazine – Volume 49 : Number 01

One of the problems in hospitals is staffing and scheduling the worker, numerous nurses complaints that schedules can be unpredictable, that transparency in how the schedule is made was lacking, and that managing the schedule was tedious and challenging.

Automated nursing shift swaps using software agents that used nurse-preference data solicited from the medical-surgical floor of Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital. The experiments were conducted over three months and included more than 200 simulated disruptions. The method was well-received by the staff, as it dramatically reduced schedule management time and found a feasible solution for 98 percent of the disruptions. It also prevented degradations in nurse schedule satisfaction in more than 50 percent of the cases and had either insignificant or no impact on nurse preferences in 72 percent of the experiments.

With constant pressure to reduce overhead and provide quality care at the lowest cost, hospitals must make innovative human resource choices. Human resource costs currently consume the largest portion of a hospital’s budget. Thus even small improvements in managing and planning staffing needs can result in large savings.