How a SaaS-based scheduling system can help overcome the healthcare staffing crisis

Caregiver shortages and high turnover rates are growing concerns across the country. At the center of the looming crisis, healthcare organizations do not have the luxury of taking a wait-and-see approach to addressing the issue. In spite of having a workforce and a bottom line that have been battered by the burdens of the pandemic, healthcare leaders must quickly develop staffing strategies that alleviate the effects of an increasingly alarming shortage of nurses and direct care workers.

Determining the best course of action to take can seem daunting when your organization has a tight budget and limited resources but needs to see results quickly.

These circumstances call for ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, a powerful staff scheduling application built on a SaaS delivery platform. Here are the system criteria that enable our scheduling application to deliver value quickly, effectively and affordably:

  • Fast deployment – In today’s environment, your health system cannot afford to spend months or even years working on a system rollout. With an implementation time averaging just two weeks, your health system can quickly overcome staff scheduling challenges.
  • Low cost – With no need for an investment in expensive hardware, your initial costs and cost of ownership are low. This is an investment that delivers a positive impact without a heavy toll on your time and resources.
  • Easy maintenance – We maintain the system for you, eliminating maintenance demands, human resource requirements and overhead costs for your organization.
  • Cost savings – The technology enables you to optimize your staff across the enterprise, ensuring all employees are working up to their commitments. By containing overtime and agency costs, your investment quickly pays for itself.

As the population ages and care demands increase, the need for bedside nurses and direct care workers will continue to grow. Already, healthcare organizations are struggling with position vacancies and schedule gaps. At the same time, budgets are tight and resources are limited, making it difficult to take action to address the staffing crisis.

The workforce challenges for healthcare organizations grow in complexity, and ABILITY continues to deliver scheduling technology that supports the innovative staffing initiatives your organization needs. These build a vibrant, healthy, empowered workforce while also managing overtime and turnover costs.

To learn more about practical strategies for leveraging technology to protect the stability of your workforce and build organizational resilience, check out our new eBook, “The High Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Ineffective Scheduling Methods Must Be Overcome Now.”


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Celebrating healthcare heroes during Nurses Month

Happy Nurses Week and Nurses Month! After the courageous and tireless efforts of nurses over the last months, it’s so appropriate to have Nurses Week expanded to Nurses Month. We’re excited to spend the month of May celebrating, recognizing and thanking nurses – our real-life superheroes.

We’re honored to be able to support nurses by providing smart scheduling and credentialing systems that enable you to protect, value and empower your nurses. These tools support strategic staff scheduling initiatives that can help you overcome pressing challenges, such as staffing shortages and turnover.

A better work/life balance

ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler makes it easy for front-line staff to be involved in the scheduling process. With more control over their own schedule, nurses can balance their time and energy to ensure they can fulfill both personal commitments and work demands with less stress or threat of burnout.

These positive effects on nurses’ well-being are especially valuable now because the pandemic has taken a toll on healthcare staff. According to the American Nurses Foundation’s COVID-19 Impact Survey, the top four feelings nurses have experienced in the last 14 days are exhausted (51%), overwhelmed (43%), irritable (37%) and anxious/unable to relax (36%).1

A better work environment

Another important way scheduling systems benefit healthcare staff is by supporting a safer, more collaborative work environment. Here are a few ways that ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler helps create a more positive workplace for nurses:

  • Predictive analytics ensure that nurses and patients are aligned appropriately so nurses have balanced, equitable workloads.
  • Streamlined open shift management workflows and mobile tools foster schedule collaboration between unit managers and front-line staff.
  • Mobile “shout-out” functionality makes it easy for leaders to recognize staff members for teamwork, extra efforts and key events, such as their birthday or work anniversary.
  • Credentialing software makes it easy to pair the right nurse with the right patient while enabling nurses to work to the top of their license.

Creating workforce stability

While nurses are healthcare superheroes, they are not invincible. Nurses and direct care workers are facing burnout, which is exacerbating staffing shortages and turnover issues. So, while we celebrate nurses, it’s also critical to consider how we will stabilize and safeguard the healthcare workforce.

If your organization isn’t taking action to address these challenges, you’re losing ground. For ideas about practical steps you can take to have a meaningful impact on staff morale, check out our eBook, “Seven Staffing Strategies that Value, Protect and Optimize Nurses.”


1. “Pulse on the Nation’s Nurses COVID-19 Survey Series: Year One COVID-19 Impact Assessment Survey,” American Nurses Foundation, February 2021,

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Empower nurses – and boost retention – with 7 practical strategies

Even before the pandemic pushed the healthcare industry to the brink, the U.S. was already facing a massive shortage of nurses, with a deficit of over 900,000 nurses projected by 2030.1

At the same time, never has it been clearer that nurses are at the cornerstone of patient care, and it goes well beyond just fulfilling the duties of the job. This past year, during a time full of upheaval and uncertainty, nurses largely proved that they are reliable, resilient and committed to their work, even sacrificing their own mental and physical health to put patients first. That’s why for the 19th year straight, nurses topped the list of most trusted professionals, according to a Gallup poll.2

As the vaccine distribution continues and society returns to “normal,” the focus must shift from mere survival to how to slow a looming exodus from the profession.

Praise and applause aren’t enough to reverse the shortage

Acknowledgement and celebration of nurses’ efforts are critical components for addressing job dissatisfaction, but it can’t stop there. Every day, nurses are still overworked, fatigued and teetering on the verge of burnout.

To address those issues, organizations must implement staffing processes that create a better work/life balance for their nurses – even if time and resources are limited right now.

7 practices that require minimal effort but offer maximum reward

Offer your nurses more balance and control to increase job satisfaction and morale with these simple, but practical, tips:

  1. Make staffing and scheduling collaborative. When employees are engaged in the process, they are generally more accepting of – and happier with – their schedules.
  2. Provide high-level visibility and real-time access that only technology can deliver. You need a quick and easy way to assess staffing conditions at any given moment. Plus, insights from data and analytics enable you to make proactive and in-the-moment decisions, reducing much of the frustration around staffing issues.
  3. Invest in a solution that is intuitive and delivers quick results. Now is not the time to bog down your organization by deploying a solution that is hard to learn, use or deploy.
  4. Provide staff with more stability. Adopt technology that enables you to forecast and adapt to staffing ups and downs, so nurses don’t feel like they are in a constant state of chaos.
  5. Focus on matching nurses with patient needs. Nurses appreciate equitable, balanced workloads.
  6. Streamline the open shift management process. Eliminate the stress around last-minute call offs and under-staffing by making it easy for your team to fill open shifts.
  7. Make the process more efficient for nurse managers. With less time spent on scheduling, nurse managers can focus on their staff and patients.

For more in-depth advice on how to align your staffing processes with nurse retention initiatives, download our eBook, Seven Staffing Strategies that Value, Protect and Optimize Nurses.

The right healthcare scheduling application at just the right time

With ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, you can easily update your staffing processes to help improve work/life balance, job satisfaction and morale, which can go a long way toward boosting retention.

  • Manage staff-to-patient ratios easily
  • Avoid costly inefficiencies and overtime
  • Forecast staffing needs to maximize accuracy
  • Empower staff with a collaborative approach

Learn more about ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler.


1“United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast,” Stephen P Juraschek, Xiaoming Zhang, Vinoth Ranganathan, and Vernon W Lin, The American Journal of Medical Quality. September/October 2019: 473-481,

2 “U.S. Ethics Ratings Rise for Medical Workers and Teachers,” Gallup, December 22, 2020,

ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Bring efficiency and visibility to COVID vaccine distribution

After months of battling COVID-19, healthcare workers were hopeful that vaccinations would offer some much-needed light in a long pandemic tunnel. Unfortunately, the process has often been rocky.

“When I went to receive my first COVID vaccination, I was brought back to reality fast,” shared one ER nurse in a rural hospital in West Virginia. “Nurses and doctors were piled into this room and waiting in a line that went out into the parking lot. Despite showing up on time and all that waiting, many went home unvaccinated because the hospital ran out of doses. We found out employees who work outside of the fray had received their shots before the nurses and doctors facing it every day. It was discouraging and infuriating. I know hospital leadership was trying to do their best, but it was so poorly planned and disorganized.”

Stories like that aren’t uncommon. The COVID-19 vaccination rollout has been a challenge, to say the least. An initial dosage shortage in December1 meant ruthless prioritization, with healthcare workers at the top of the list.

Still, as the calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021 even some of the nation’s top hospitals were struggling to rollout the vaccine in a sensible way.2

Cautious optimism as more doses become available

Promising news came in mid-February when President Biden announced his administration had secured 200 million more doses3 of COVID-19 vaccines – a 50% increase.

However, along with that encouraging news came a realistic look at the logistics of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans, which could take well into the summer. Especially tricky is that the vaccination requires two doses on a specific schedule.

Improving vaccine distribution with two ABILITY applications

To ensure that more healthcare professionals are vaccinated in a timely manner, leaders must develop a distribution process, but without broad visibility and tracking mechanisms, planning is a challenge. Two applications from ABILITY can help.

While ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, a workforce management application, generally simplifies the process of scheduling staff and open shift management, it is especially valuable for vaccine distribution. Use it to:

  • Schedule both vaccinations for every employee in your facility. Plus, gain the visibility to see in an instant where appointments stand across the organization and by department.
  • Notify staff of scheduled vaccines. Send notifications to staff of their vaccination appointment.
  • Enable employees to swap appointments as needed. If something urgent comes up, a staff member can find a replacement, so schedule appointment slots aren’t wasted.
  • Track compliance. Receive alerts when staff vaccinations are upcoming or overdue.

Overall, this application can help provide better management and planning for those receiving and giving the vaccines.

Further streamline your vaccine distribution process with ABILITY SMARTFORCE Credentialer, which enables you to easily track credentials and organize licenses, certifications and in-services all in one place. You can see at a glance who hasn’t taken their first or second dose, plus both you and employees receive alerts when a vaccination is upcoming or overdue. That can be instrumental in scheduling staff to work with high-risk patients.

Both of these affordable applications are accessible from mobile phones, tablets or computers and both are easy to learn and deploy.

To learn more and see both applications in action, schedule a demo.



1 “Trump administration passed up chance to lock in more Pfizer vaccine doses,” NBC News, December 8, 2020,

2 “As Hospitals Roll Out COVID-19 Vaccines, Health Care Workers Describe Chaos And Anger,” NPR, December 28, 2020,

3 “With More Vaccines Secured, Biden Warns of Hurdles to Come,” New York Times, February 11, 2021,


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Choosing a mobile scheduling app that empowers your staff

In many areas of our lives, mobile apps have become integrated into our daily routines. We order groceries, coordinate curbside pick-up of lunch, track our fitness, schedule dinner with friends, navigate to our destination – all powered by a smartphone and apps.

Mobile staffing and scheduling apps that deliver the same level of convenience are becoming a must-have for healthcare workers. Nurses often have irregular schedules that can change rapidly based on evolving patient dynamics. Well-designed mobile technology can help staff manage their work schedule and provide a foundation for a better work/life balance.

Any strategy that can help boost morale and eliminate frustrations for nurses requires serious consideration. The mobile scheduling app that your organization chooses should be evaluated carefully to ensure it truly delivers the benefits your nurses will appreciate. For maximum effectiveness, a mobile scheduling app should streamline key processes for your staff. Flexibility is also key; look for an app that allows users to determine how they see and interact with the information.

Here’s how the ABILITY SMARTFORCE® Scheduler mobile app delivers the benefits your staff find the most beneficial:

Calendar management

When staff want to know what shifts they’re working or if there are open shifts on a day they’re available to work, the mobile app puts the data at their fingertips.

The app also makes it easy to see if staff have met their staffing commitments. A quick check in the mobile app lets them know if they’ve fulfilled their weekend requirement for the month or which holidays they need to work this year.

Going a step further, the mobile app provides the ability for staff to sync their work schedule with their personal calendar. Whether they use Google, Microsoft or Apple for their calendar, information can be synchronized so it’s easy to manage work obligations and personal commitments.

Eliminate intrusive calls

One of the greatest staffing frustrations for nurses are those frequent calls from the staffing office or their unit manager asking them to pick up open shifts. Nurses are caregivers at heart, and they want to help. But, ongoing calls during their time off adds unnecessary anxiety and disrupts their work/life balance. Those calls intrude on their personal time, and when they happen too often, nurses stop answering their phone.

Hearing the phone ring and knowing it’s the staffing office or your unit manager calling to beg you to pick up an open shift can be aggravating and stressful, but staff need to stay in-the-know about staffing and scheduling updates. With the mobile app, staff determine how they will receive the information. They can choose push notifications on their phone, within the app, by text or via email – or a combination of methods. It’s a better process for everyone involved, as annoying phone calls are eliminated, staff are kept informed and open shifts can be filled more efficiently.

Quick and easy staff shout-outs

In the fast-paced, high-stress healthcare environment, managers need to take every opportunity to engage with their staff. The mobile app makes it easy for managers to share a kind word or a compliment with their team. Whether the manager would like to recognize an entire group for a job well done, say happy birthday to someone in their unit, or provide encouragement after a tough shift, the flexible technology enables quick, effective communication that boosts morale.

Touchless badging

When timeclocks aren’t available or a touchless option is preferred, the app provides an easy alternative for badging in and out. The option to use either geo-fencing or iBeacons ensures accurate, fast badging for staff without concerns about lines at the timeclock.

Easy communication with float staff

Changes in patient demand and staffing requirements happen quickly and frequently, making it essential to have streamlined workflows in place when staff need to be reassigned. The mobile app makes it easy to alert staff about where they will be working for their entire shift or even just a portion of their shift. The flexible, easy-to-use technology ensures staff receive timely communication in the way that works best for them and can effectively be deployed to the right place.

Scheduling issues can be a source of frustration for your staff, especially when it’s hard to access information and communication with staff is chaotic and intrusive. A mobile scheduling app can be an impactful part of your organization’s staff engagement initiatives.

For more information about staffing practices that empower your staff, check out this eBook, “Seven Staffing Strategies that Value, Protect and Optimize Nurses.

To learn more about ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler and the mobile app, contact us for a demo. Our product specialists are nurses who understand your challenges and can show you how the right staffing solution can benefit your organization.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Five leading practices to streamline your open shift management process

What does the time leading up to each shift look like within your hospital?

• Is there a frantic scramble to find staff who might be available to pick up critical open shifts?

• Are patients backed up in the ER or PACU, waiting for staffing issues to be resolved so they can be admitted on a floor?

• Does your staffing office look like a phone bank, with the staffing coordinators calling nurse after nurse to ask them to come in?

• Does each unit fend for themselves when finding staff to fill open shifts?

If this chaos is the reality at your health system, your organization could benefit greatly from an overhaul of the workflows used to find staff when there are gaps in the schedule.

Here are five best practices for open shift management to consider.

1. Ensure managers and staff nurses work collaboratively.

When staffing and scheduling is a top-down process that does not engage front-line nurses, it can be a source of job dissatisfaction for staff. Instead, provide more opportunities for nurses to participate in the process and choose the open shifts they want to work.

That cooperative approach benefits the entire organization. When nurses are more accountable for choosing their shifts, managers spend less time doing administrative staffing tasks, nurses appreciate having input into their schedule, and open shifts are filled more effectively.

2. Eliminate the heavy reliance on phone calls.

Often, inefficient manual processes and a lack of accurate data lead to the staffing office team and unit managers making desperate phone calls to find staff to fill critical open shifts at the last minute. Without predictive analytics to foresee when understaffing will be an issue and without the tools to do a mass outreach to staff who are qualified to work the shift, the process becomes reliant on haphazardly prepared calling lists and large numbers of phone calls. The staffing office and unit managers spend valuable time on the calling efforts, and nurses become frustrated with the frequent calls that disrupt their personal time and add unneeded job-related stress.

Taking advantage of push notification capabilities can eliminate this problem. Managers and staffing coordinators identify the staff who are qualified to fill the open shifts and send notifications to those who are eligible. Staff can elect to receive the information via text, email or within the mobile app.

3. Promote communication and cooperation with enterprise-wide visibility.

Without a comprehensive view of staffing needs across the organization, each unit becomes its own silo. A better approach is to make sure the staffing office and all unit managers can see the complete picture so they are empowered to work together to fill open shifts. With that enterprise-wide approach, staff are optimized and patient care needs are met across the entire organization.

4. Move from reactive to proactive.

By using technology to help them see forecasted staffing needs, the team can adapt their plans in advance of the shift. With the ability to make better staffing decisions earlier in the process, the reactive decisions become proactive choices. Unit managers and the team in the staffing office can be more strategic and focused on future planning because they’re no longer spending their time mitigating the issues of staffing shortages or overages. Staff benefit from more schedule stability because there’s less need to flex up and down just before or during the shift.

5. Use the right technology to support the process.

When technology enables the entire team to participate in the scheduling process, open shift management is streamlined for everyone. ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler enables the collaboration and data-driven decision-making required for a more effective open shift management process.

Here are four key workflow areas where technology transforms the process from chaotic to collaborative:
• Proactively spotting open shifts – With predictive analytics highlighting staffing needs days before the start of the shift, unit managers and staffing coordinators have more time to make the necessary changes.
• Communicating with staff – Instead of one-to-one phone outreach, the staffing office and unit managers can send out push notifications to any staff who are qualified to fill the open shift.
• Requesting open shifts – Based on their chosen method of communication, staff are notified about open shifts. Because they have more advance notice, staff can pick the shifts that fit their schedule, giving them a better work/life balance.
• Filling the shift – Based on criteria such as date and time of request, seniority and overtime status, the unit manager or staffing office can award the shift to one of the nurses who requested it. Staff who requested receive a notification to let them know whether or not they have been assigned the shift.

To learn more about ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, contact us for a demo. Our product specialists are nurses who understand the challenges of open shift management and can show you how the right staffing solution can benefit your organization.

Improving the open shift management process is one way to engage your staff. For information about additional staffing practices that empower your staff, check out this eBook, “Seven Staffing Strategies that Value, Protect and Optimize Nurses.”


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Optimize your workforce with organization-wide visibility

Healthcare facilities have often relied to some degree on traveling nurses and visiting physicians or specialists. Especially in locations where full-time positions aren’t necessary or realistic, from a budget and personnel standpoint, those healthcare professionals will spread their hours across multiple locations.

Widespread healthcare staffing shortages, coupled with the potential for calamities like the pandemic, have no doubt underscored the critical need for traveling healthcare personnel. It has also accentuated the dire need for organizations to have the flexibility to move staff from one floor to another – and one location to another – when the need arises.

Siloed departments impede quick decision-making

The challenge for many healthcare organizations is they don’t operate under one cohesive scheduling system. Different locations use different systems, and in some cases, departments within the same facility adopt different technology or staffing processes.

Scheduling managers are often operating in a vacuum, focused only on their direct reports. If a nurse calls off, it usually means a shift is left under-staffed or other nurses are pushed into overtime to keep patient-to-staff ratios where they need to be. Meanwhile, on another floor within the same hospital, nurses are being sent home early because census is low.

Healthcare leaders may reach out to other departments in emergency situations when severe understaffing and too-high census collide. But that often involves an inefficient process of calling around to see who can send someone to another floor. In the meantime, employees are overwhelmed, and patients are waiting for care.

Leaders need more visibility across the organization

To prevent understaffing, overstaffing and overtime, leaders need more visibility into specific schedules and across locations. That’s true across all levels of the organization, from team leaders to executives. You just can’t get that level of visibility without scheduling applications or software. For example, with SMARTFORCE Scheduler, managers, on a permissions basis, can see who is available to work across multiple locations, whether those locations are in the same building or across the state. With ABILITY, you also get these time- and money-saving benefits:

  • PowerScheduler™. In one screen, managers can view schedules in one-week, two-week, four-week or six-week formats, to see when all staff members are scheduled to work. It provides a simple, complete view that enables quicker, smarter decision-making when it comes to covering open shifts with both home unit staff and staff from other locations.
  • “By Employee” scheduling. Move staff into any department they are qualified for and can access regardless of their location. Units that don’t allow staff to float in can be locked down so only home unit staff will be scheduled.
  • Overtime monitoring. See immediately who is approaching overtime in your specific department. Plus, because overtime and hour commitments are not locked to a single location or unit, you can easily determine the overtime risk of moving staff between locations.
  • Staff collaboration. Using their personal devices, staff can access the schedule, receive communication about open shifts, swap shifts and volunteer for shifts. The application also enables staff to pick up shifts at other locations if they possess the right credentials and qualifications.

At the highest level, ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler enables you to optimize staff across your entire organization, helping to ensure individual units’ needs are met, while reducing the cost of overstaffing and overtime. To see the top mobile scheduling app ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler in action, request a demo now.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Mobile readiness is a must-have for scheduling software

In an environment where the expectation is quickly becoming “anytime, anywhere” access to data, the need for mobility in staff scheduling has never been greater.

For starters, consider the prevalence of smartphone usage: More than 80% of Americans own a smartphone, and they aren’t using it solely to make calls or send text messages. In fact, increasingly people are using their phones as their only means to go online. The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) estimates that globally 51% of people access the internet only via their smartphone. By 2025, the organization expects that number to rise to more than 72%.

In healthcare settings, where nurses typically aren’t seated in front of a computer, communication about schedule changes via smartphone is rapidly becoming the norm. We’ve reached the tipping point where scheduling must be mobile-ready to ensure fast and easy shift management and communication with staff.

When your scheduling software isn’t available as a mobile app, a free mobile option isn’t available with your workforce management solution, or your app simply isn’t that good, you also miss out on these important benefits that you get with ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler:

Broad visibility and intelligence

With a few taps on any device, you and staff can see real-time schedule data across your organization. For example, in the event a staff member calls off, you could in minutes ascertain not only who is available, but who could cover the shift without racking up overtime.

Plus, you can do that regardless of where you and your staff are located, whether that’s when you are running errands or at the bedside of a patient. That type of visibility it critical for making informed decisions to prevent staffing shortages that could impact patient care.

Simplified communication

With a mobile application, you take the guesswork out of connecting with your staff. You don’t have to call or text multiple people, potentially at multiple numbers, to notify your team of schedule changes or shift needs. You simply send one push notification through ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler and everyone receives it at the same time.

The mobile application also enables staff to request time off, volunteer for shifts, swap shifts or make recommendations for covering the shifts.  The collaboration eases leaders’ burden and empowers staff to be part of the solution, which is outstanding for morale. A process that might have taken hours can be reduced to minutes, and you don’t have to worry about communications being missed or overlooked.

Data for prevention

As the old adage goes, the best offense is a good defense. The predictive analytics available through ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler enable you to use data from the past to forecast your future needs and staff more smartly. With features such as our quick-look staffing grid, you can better manager staff-to-patient ratios and prevent under- and over-staffing. And with the Overtime Dollars and Avoidable Overtime reports you can pinpoint costly inefficiencies and reduce your labor costs.

It’s time to go mobile

Not all scheduling software is created equal. For more efficient, accurate and collaborative scheduling, it must meet the mobile needs of you and your staff. 

Plus, add-ons bring even more flexibility and efficiency. Add ABILITY SMARTFORCE Attendance to enable contactless time capture and enable staff to clock in from their personal phones – using geo-location to confirm they’re on site. And approve timecards and track punches from your own device and receive real-time alerts for missed or late punches. Along with our top-rated mobile scheduling and attendance applications, add ABILITY SMARTFORCE Credentialer so you and your staff can organize licenses, certifications and in-services in one secure, intuitive dashboard.

To see the top mobile scheduling app ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler in action, request a demo now.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY® and ABILITY SMARTFORCE® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.

Desperate to trim your labor budget? Start with overtime.

Labor costs consume most of a healthcare organization’s operating budget, so when it’s time to reduce costs, that’s usually the first place to look for savings. In fact, nearly half (44%) of CFOs and executives say reducing labor expenses is their No. 1 priority, according to a joint survey from the Healthcare Financial Management Association and Navigant.

Yet, for many healthcare organizations, typical cost-cutting measures, like layoffs or widespread hour reductions, just aren’t possible because they’re already short-staffed. For years, the healthcare industry has been up against a pretty critical staffing shortage. A lack of nurses, which make up the largest segment of the health profession, is a big driver behind the shortage. So much so that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11 million additional nurses are needed to avoid a further shortage.

As a result, more nurses are working more overtime, as are physicians, mental health providers and support staff, and it’s pushing healthcare organizations’ labor budgets to the brink.

Overtime is a budget and quality killer

It’s simple math: In most cases, an hour of overtime costs more than a regular work hour, and an increase in overtime is undoubtedly contributing to the rise in labor costs. That’s why it has become a key metric for executives to monitor and why managers feel pressured to rein it in.

It makes sense to do so. Overtime is expensive and it’s been tied to employee fatigue and burnout, medical errors and lower patient satisfaction, all of which cost the organization in some way, even if it’s hard to quantify the losses. To look at it another way, it means your organization could be paying much more for lower quality work that could have a long-term impact on the bottom line.

All that said, decreasing your reliance on overtime is often the most effective way to drive down labor costs. That requires taking a closer look at scheduling practices, and more specifically, how overtime is being used – and misused.

Offer managers more visibility and insight to curb overtime

Sometimes overtime is unavoidable. Often, however, it is a mistake that occurs because managers don’t have real-time visibility into what’s happening within their departments. They’re working with spreadsheets or other outdated scheduling processes, and they’re making split-second decisions without much data to go on when staff calls off or a unit is full.

That’s where a tool like ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler can be invaluable, offering overtime management with real-time, pervasive staffing visibility. For example, with a few taps on any mobile device, a manager can immediately see which employees are already in or nearing overtime. That insight can help inform initial scheduling decisions, fill open shifts and even prioritize who to send home during a slow shift.

By tapping on the employee’s schedule, the user can drill down further and receive a breakdown of the employee’s shifts. In some cases, a shift that will push an employee into overtime may be on the schedule, but it hasn’t yet occurred. That offers managers an opportunity to find a replacement for any hours that exceed 40 before the employee racks up overtime.

Overall, it offers managers more control over their schedules and a simpler, quicker way to manage shifts.

Gain the insight required to address overtime misuse

With ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, your managers have at their fingertips the data they need to make better staffing decisions and reduce costly overtime.

In addition, the executive team also benefits from in-depth overtime reports that break down both overtime hours and costs, by location or region, on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or year-to-date basis. That insight can allow you to pinpoint where overtime is costing too much, so you can troubleshoot the issue. Plus, the report will also forecast expenses for the next month, so you can proactively work with managers to reduce potential costs.

Keep overtime costs in check

With the highly affordable ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, you gain the visibility and insight to dramatically reduce overtime.  If you want to see firsthand how much time ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler can save you, request a demo now.

CDC advice for managing a staffing shortage – and how ABILITY can help

Healthcare workers across the U.S. – many who thought the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind them – have been hit with a blast of harsh reality.

Hospitals in California, Texas, Florida and elsewhere are reporting shortages in equipment, drugs, beds and staff as the pandemic has spiked in some areas. Concerns abound that more waves could land in the fall, right as the annual flu season starts.

Healthcare workers on the front line, despite being more cautious and better equipped than the average citizen, are at high risk for contracting the virus. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), healthcare professionals account for 106,180 cases and 552 deaths. And those numbers don’t paint the full picture because, of the data collected, healthcare personnel status was only available for 21.6% of the subjects.

The CDC warns that healthcare organizations must be prepared for staffing shortages due to exposure to COVID-19, actual illness or to care for loved ones who become ill with the virus.

In healthcare, where staffing shortages already make shift management and adequate staff-to-patient ratios a challenge, more surges are bound to leave hospitals reeling.

To help healthcare organizations, the CDC has released Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages on its website. We highly recommend you read the full article, but here are some highlights.

Understand how many employees you must have

Know the minimum number of staff you need to provide high-quality care and a safe work environment. That is the benchmark for establishing your schedule for all doctors, nurses, paramedics and support staff, including custodians and administrators.

With that as your baseline, you can then set up contingency plans in the event of a surge in your facility, for example, by:

  • Hiring additional healthcare professionals
  • Recruiting retirees, students or volunteers to be on call
  • Canceling elective procedures and visits and shifting personnel from those floors to support patient care in the ER or ICU

The goal here is to not wait until you are up against a shortage, but instead, prepare for a worst-case scenario. That starts by understanding your most basic staffing needs and having steps in place before a shortage occurs.

How do busy healthcare leaders track it all?

A previous post examined how the pandemic is complicating credential tracking, as states waive requirements and help comes from retirees, students, volunteers, ex-healthcare staff whose licenses have expired and out-of-state professionals.

COVID-19 is creating the same challenges for staffing.

Think about it: What if three ICU nurses called off sick one hour before a shift? What if several hospital custodians went on strike because they weren’t receiving adequate PPE? What if the on-call ER physician is a no-show? Or half of your ER registrars had to quarantine?

Do the managers who oversee those employees have the information they need to find replacements quickly and efficiently?

For many organizations, that is a “No.” Healthcare leaders and managers don’t have the broad visibility or context to make quick staffing decisions on a “normal” day – much less during a crisis. They can spend hours poring over spreadsheets and making calls to find replacements.

Add in an influx of on-call volunteers or new hires and the complexity grows. And if your organization has no other choice but to allow employees with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to work, scheduling that person so that they can treat patients that meet the CDC’s criteria is a logistical nightmare. That’s a detail that you would need to consider and track as you create the schedule and fill open shifts.

ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler enables you to act fast

With the deep visibility and intelligence you gain from ABILITY SMARTFORCE Scheduler, you can better meet the needs of your patients and staff now and long after you’ve recovered from the pandemic:

  • Gain instant access to schedule data – across your organization – from any device
  • Manage staff-to-patient ratios with a quick-look staffing grid through predictive analytics
  • Communicate schedule changes and shift needs to staff without picking up a phone
  • Avoid overstaffing and overtime by gaining an eagle-eye view of the hours each employee has worked with a highly intuitive dashboard
  • Pinpoint costly inefficiencies, such as scheduling over budget and paying for hours not met, with permissions-based control and visibility

Plus, check out the rest of ABILITY’s suite of mobile applications that take the work out of workforce management:

  • Allow staff to clock in from their phones, approve timecards and track staff punches with ABILITY SMARTFORCE Attendance
  • Collect, organize and track licenses and certifications with ABILITY SMARTFORCE Credentialer
  • Manage physician and clinical schedules, view open shifts and track commitments with ABILITY SMARTFORCE Physician

All our applications are affordable and easy to deploy and use. Upgrade how you manage your workforce by contacting our sales team at 888-552-4049.


ABILITY and design®, ABILITY®, ABILITY SMARTFORCE® and Credentialer® are trademarks of ABILITY Network, Inc.