How AI is enabling a demand-led approach to doctor scheduling

by Rotageek on 6 April 2022

It’s not unusual for healthcare providers to take a demand-led approach to nursing, to ensure that staffing levels match the expected needs of patients.

With nurses, this demand-led approach is relatively pain free as planners are typically working with one rostering system. By contrast, trying to produce a roster that delivers the right mix of doctors to meet patient demand at specific locations is a far more complex task.

Traditionally, doctor schedules are broken down by specialisms – oncology, paediatrics, gastroenterology, and so on. If planners want to take a holistic view of doctor provision, this means having to contend with multiple disparate systems.

For any Trust looking to take a multi-disciplinary approach to patient care – and bring together the right teams, in the right places, at the right times – this creates significant complications.

AI is changing this, however.

This technology is powering next-gen digital solutions that can pull together multiple data streams – including different doctor groups and patient forecast data – to quickly calculate the optimal service level for each care facility. This is also allowing Trusts to match the right mix of skills and seniority to patient needs.

But this isn’t where the benefits of AI end.

Solving staff shortages

By enabling a more centralised approach to doctor rostering, AI is helping healthcare planners to identify and resolve any staffing shortages more easily.

These centralised systems are helping to provide doctors with greater visibility over their work schedules, via a self-service app – and this is allowing planners to broadcast shift availability to a broad pool of doctors, including locums, instantly.

Instead of calling the list of doctors that they trust to take on extra shifts, they can cast the net wider. This is helping them to fill shifts faster and reducing the need to resort to expensive agency staff, which will lead to significant cost savings.

Better wellbeing = better healthcare

The ability of AI-powered rostering to calculate the implications of any change, almost instantly, is also helping to build flexibility into the system. This is doing more than enabling Trusts to fill gaps in the roster – it is allowing doctors to swap and change shifts more easily.

By helping doctors to manage their workloads and take more control over their work/life balance, these rostering systems can protect the well-being of NHS staff. This will likely lead to healthier and happier doctors meeting patients on the frontline – and ultimately lead to higher standards of care.

Reduced risk rostering

Greater automation is another major advantage of AI-powered systems – and this is helping Trusts to lower the risks associated with rostering. For instance, when scheduling is managed by AI, compliance requirements, such as the Working Time Regulations, are automatically factored into the calculations.

Taking this task out of human hands also reduces any possible claims of favouritism or unconscious bias. So, not only is the rostering system more efficient, it's fairer for all.


If you'd like to know more about how digital solutions are transforming doctor rostering you can read our whitepaper, Rethinking Doctor Rostering: Why greater visibility and flexibility will be transformative for healthcare in full here.


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