How infusion providers can create effective and fair scheduling for nurses with the right software system

AlayaCare Posted on Jun 22, 2022

Infusion nurses -- a specialty most certainly on the rise -- are not only health-care professionals but serve as educators and resources to the clients they see on a regular basis. Infusion nurses are highly adaptable specialists who can work in any practice setting where IV therapy is delivered, which is increasingly performed inside special clinics and the homes of patients. 

Nurses must possess a firm knowledge of intravenous access and phlebotomy within their medical and surgical experience. They are vital cogs in the health-care machinery of doctors, residents, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and administrators. They also shoulder tremendous responsibility for patient safety and that care is of high quality: not just in IV therapy delivery, but in evaluating someone’s response to therapy.  

All of this is to say: Infusion nurses tend to be passionate about what they do and are committed to their clients and their families who rely on them day in and day out, hour by hour. However, RNs can still feel stressed and overworked. 

Help reduce work stress from their nurses' day through an improved scheduling process 

Health leaders are responsible for bringing nurses to work. While turnover is inevitable, there is the possibility of significantly reducing work stress and improving retention by adopting better scheduling measures.  

Offer flexible work schedules 

Flexible work schedules can make the difference for infusion nurses. Offering flexibility can reduce work stress because overworked OR underworked nurses are not happy nurses. This can lead to a decrease in the quality of patient care. Find ways to balance out your caregiver’s schedules through technology or other organization methods so your caregivers aren’t over-stressed or underwhelmed by their work.  

Open a dialogue between Management and Employees 

Improve poor communication between management and infusion nurses and encourage nurses to provide feedback to improve their schedules. Aside from collecting questionnaires, schedule employee involvement panels. Give nurses a sense of pride in the quality and respect for their honest feedback. It could mean rewarding nurses with new initiative efforts or introducing a gratitude party that lets nurses know that their feedback helped them. 

Related content: How Home Infusion Providers Deliver Industry-Leading Care 

Eliminate burn-out and keep your nursing staff happy with the right scheduling software 

One of the major scheduling problems for infusion nurses is managing the difference between care time, when infusion nurses are actively treating patients, and on-going time, when they simply monitor patient care. The key here is proper scheduling, which should align with the capacity of the infusion clinic. For instance, a single nurse can efficiently cover a three-chair clinic but if care time overlaps inefficiently, that nurse may struggle to carry the load. This can lead to an agency needlessly scheduling additional home infusion nurses -- or risk overworking its current nursing staff. 

This is the fine line: maintaining the right volume of patients without under- or over-staffing nurses when scheduling. At risk here is nursing burnout, which is a very real problem within an industry that’s already experiencing a shortage of these skilled professionals. 

To toe the line effectively, a home infusion organization can thrive with schedule optimization built into a strong software suite. 

See our blog on 4 tips to improve caregiver experience through route and schedule optimization here to learn more. 

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Use a schedule optimization system for your infusion nurses' scheduling needs 

With the right scheduling software in place, agencies can 

  1. streamline the scheduling process 
  2. increase nurse utilization 
  3. improve resource management  
  4. and ultimately, provide better patient outcomes  

With home infusion software, the more flexible and intuitive the better, as it will help administrators, scheduling coordinators, managers and nurses become more efficient despite any changing needs within an agency or the infusion market at large.  

At AlayaCare, we think certain benefits set the bar for scheduling efficiency:  

Group and facility infusion nurse scheduling functionality 

This helps infusion nurses and other staff members view all patients scheduled during their shift, providing a complete picture of the day and the ability to batch cancel and/or mark patients as absent where needed. It also enables administrators to better ascertain capacity levels and employee availability so that staff and resources can be capped where necessary. Lastly, nurses and patients can be scheduled separately into the same group or facility, to expedite schedule efficiencies for everything from clinics and shared care to day programs and training.  

Maximize care time vs. on-going time with online scheduling 

Managing active care time and on-going time are scheduling headaches. Scheduling software that offers care time settings to indicate the number of care time minutes per appointment can be a lifesaver here. AlayaCare’s software, for example, features visual cues on the visit blocks themselves with additional visibility within the facility finder feature. By capturing and tracking this data in their system, clinics can easily benchmark and increase efficiency within their scheduling practices. 

Home Infusion Scheduling

Easy scheduling 

Technology is only useful if it’s used -- and that means it must be simple and intuitive for nurses and other staff members. Drag and drop functionality enables quick and easy adjustments; color-coding and icons are helpful visual cues; hover effects easily display shift details and important visit information; and multiple calendar views to suit individual nurse preferences provide a comfortable interface.  These are just a few of the benefits that can -- and should -- be in place to support the scheduler with the right amount of resources to meet nurses' and patients' specific needs.  

Automated scheduling with A.I. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming an important asset when it comes to software innovation. From the AlayaCare and HHCN 2022 survey report, only 36% of home care providers say that their organization is investing in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The industry is beginning to grasp the utilization of AI technology for their day-to-day software.   

 “[There is also] a big danger in burnout for office staff as well [in home care organizations]. Because they get overwhelmed trying to make these schedules and deal with all the details that must happen to make every visit count.” - Naomi Goldapple, VP of AlayaLabs, HHCN Webinar 2022   

Consider scheduling software technology with AI that:  

  1. permits software to recommend minor changes and schedule re-shuffle for efficiency to help you schedule nurses with the right patients efficiently.   
  2. computes and factors all variables for shift/visit placement, ensuring your nurses are paired with patients that meet their skills and strengths and their commute needs.   
  3. has an algorithm that recognizes constraints and delivers to schedulers/coordinators with ideal routes and care worker suggestions, ensuring your nurses aren’t under-scheduled or overscheduled and are provided with optimal schedules best fit for their individual work needs. 

With AlayaCare’s home infusion software schedule and route optimization features, schedulers and coordinators have the tools to ensure they are efficiently utilizing current staff to their maximum potential for patient care. Serve more patients with existing staff with more favorable coordinators/schedulers to field staff.   

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Topics: Back Office Suite, Infusion