Solving Problems Is Hard!

The fact is that solving problems is hard. If a given problem still exists, you can bet that a lot of people have already come along and failed to solve it. Easy problems evaporate; it is the hard ones that linger.

— Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, authors of Freakonomics

Optimizing a Patient Schedule

Now THAT is a hard problem to solve! It might be the hardest problem in dialysis. After nearly 50 years, this problem of scheduling patients and assigning staff in an optimal way has been with us for as long as most working dialysis professionals can remember. It is a really hard problem to solve!

If you’ve ever given it a try, you know exactly what I mean. Especially after you take that carefully crafted document that you worked so hard on and place it into the hands of a patient care tech or nurse and ask them to work that optimized schedule. That is where the rubber meets the road. And then you wait… You wait for your staff tell you in no uncertain terms how you just failed abysmally at making anyone’s day better! Their turnovers are even worse than before, and they can’t possibly get their breaks with this optimized patient schedule. And let’s not even get into what the patients are saying!

Ok, I painted a pretty bleak picture. It’s not all doom and gloom. But that, my friends, is where the fun of solving the patient schedule really begins! That is, assuming you are a glutton for punishment like me.

It is not an easy task to ensure all patients get the exact time and chair they want, and that all the staff get to come in to work and go home when they please. That is not the nature of this business. But at the center of all of this is the patient schedule. And if you can solve it, be proud! Because you have really accomplished something.

Of course, then the very next week, two patients expire, you have three new patients, and you just lost a couple of your staff. Where does it end?! It’s back to the old drawing board.

Is There Any Hope?

One day, I promise… there will be an easy button. I talked about this very thing in my post “Is Effective Patient Scheduling More An Art Or Science?” But you will have to let go and welcome your new computer/robot overlords.

Until then, there are easier ways to address the seemingly constant problem of patient schedule. But don’t get me wrong. It’s still a HARD problem to solve. Even though we think ScheduleWise is the best tool for the job… even we know that we haven’t fully solved this problem. It still takes work! And so we continue to work at it, sharing with you techniques and principles we have learned in working with over 2600 clinics, and coaching organizations on how to manage their workflow.

In the meantime, if you are stressing out dealing with your patient or staff schedules, let us know in the comments down below. After all, you have enough stress, and this is the stuff that should keep US up at night… not you!

Mark Sessoms

Mark Sessoms

I'm supposedly a helluva industrial engineer since my alma mater is Georgia Tech. But what I really seem to be good at and really enjoy is in continuous process improvement. I've been tackling scheduling practices in dialysis since 2003, and after meeting with Gary, we thought we could do something better. Five years later, the stars aligned and ScheduleWise was born... where these days, I mostly oversee software development.

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