by Rotageek on 9 February 2022
E-rostering has always had its benefits in healthcare (better flexibility, increased productivity and organisational visibility to name a few). But it’s only been in the last couple of years that the NHS has fully witnessed its value.
Rostering solutions proved instrumental during the height of the pandemic, where organisations were faced with unpredictable absences, varied working hours (and pay), a need to redeploy staff and of course, the historical increase in hospital admissions. And so it was during the second wave of Covid-19 cases that a £7.5 million investment was provided to NHS trusts to fund e-rostering technology.
Yet despite this push for better scheduling, many organisations are still not reaping the rewards and instead are faced with an expensive and complex legacy solution. Such technology doesn’t just have monetary costs - it results in wasted hours, unnecessary IT time and a lack of cost-saving functionality (a key bonus of optimised scheduling).
Here we reveal what to look out for in a legacy e-rostering system, highlighting when it could be time for you to change supplier.
The true cost of a legacy e-rostering system… and when to change
Legacy solutions often present complex pricing structures, mashing together a mix of multiple solutions under the guise of one product. This results in a bunch of features you probably don’t need, or use - but end up paying for nonetheless.
However, as the SaaS industry rapidly evolves, as does the quality and number of alternative solutions. Rather than relying on one or two widely used products, NHS trusts have a wider pool of potential e-rostering suppliers to choose from, each providing cheaper, better and more compliant alternatives.
Unlike legacy technology, these digital rostering solutions provide cloud-based software - meaning it won’t require a substantial installation fee or timely set-up period. This also makes it easier to customise. Your supplier will help you to pick out the perfect features for your individual organisation, ensuring you receive a solid return on investment.
A beneficial rostering solution should save schedulers hours of admin time (up to nine a week in most cases). But sadly this can be eradicated if the technology isn’t easy to use - a common scenario within healthcare.
Many legacy solutions aren’t designed with the user experience front of mind which wastes hours of staff time spent navigating a clunky system. Bad integrations with the organisation’s current technology also means users have to rekey data into different solutions. Whilst core scheduling processes are complicated, time-consuming and often cause more stress than the original rostering method.
A negative user experience also results in lack of engagement and poor participation - if employees don’t like the technology, they simply won’t use it.
To ensure NHS budgets don’t go to waste, your e-rostering solution must be simple (and enjoyable) to use. Navigation should come naturally with features such as push notifications, real-time updates and wish-lists - many of which can be found in consumer or brand apps including WhatsApp, Slack and Uber.
Presenting a good user interface on technology that can be accessed anywhere, anytime (a mobile app, on a tablet etc.) is crucial to maximising take up. A vital factor considering the complex nature of rostering in an already stressful environment.
With a lack of integration comes a lack of up to date information. It’s often tricky to implement a legacy system that works alongside other suppliers’ technology. But not doing so leads to a fruitless rostering solution.
To work effectively, optimised scheduling relies on - and directly benefits - payroll systems, time and attendance, and patient care systems to ensure the number of staff per ward is perfectly balanced.
If badly integrated, rostering systems only complicate the matter, meaning updates aren’t made in real-time and multiple versions are accidentally created. Cloud-based technology really is a must. It guarantees an interoperable solution that exchanges and interprets data automatically between systems, meaning users can be more productive and hospitals better staffed.
If shifts are scheduled badly without being optimised to demand, the price is ultimately poorer patient care. Particularly at a time where the NHS waitlist continues to stretch resources.
Our needs consistently change - as does the technology that caters to them. The way we schedule employees is continuously becoming fairer, more flexible and better aligned with individual preferences. Therefore what works for your organisation now, might not be the best solution in a few years time.
Legacy solutions often present very structured systems that are difficult to tailor or improve. This lack of agility will lead to expensive changes in the future with reinvestments or redevelopment. But with a cloud-based solution, healthcare can benefit from the latest innovations and save costs in the long run.
Smaller rostering providers often have the upper hand when it comes to developing their solution. Improvements can be made quickly in line with your organisation’s changing needs to ensure an ongoing return on investment.
Partnering with the right e-rostering supplier is crucial to guaranteeing a long term return on investment.