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Setting up mass COVID-19 immunization clinics was a gigantic logistical undertaking.
There were many factors to consider, such as security, location, safety protocols, communications, and much more. One major factor was staffing.
“Sometimes, we’d get shipments of the vaccine with very little notice. Saskatchewan residents needed health-care employees to be there to administer those vaccines right away,” explains Kweku Johnson, Director of Human Resource Systems and Analytics, Staff Scheduling at the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA). “The SHA had the right tools developed to staff the clinics as soon as possible in a way that was user-friendly for health-care employees.”
The SHA laid the groundwork for this vaccine clinic scheduling success years ago when the former Saskatoon and Cypress health regions developed the mass scheduling system. Johnson, who is also the Human Resource Lead with the Administrative Information Management System (AIMS) project, explains that this same system will also be built into AIMS.
The AIMS project is a provincial health system initiative involving the Saskatchewan Health Authority, 3sHealth, eHealth, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, SAHO Inc., and affiliated organizations. The project will integrate financial, supply chain, payroll, and human resource management information by replacing 82 non-integrated systems into one single software solution.
Right people, right place, at the right time to administer vaccines
A crucial component of this scheduling system is the application Andgo. Andgo is a mass communication tool the Saskatchewan health system uses to communicate with employees about staffing needs.
“Let’s say that we’re setting up a vaccine clinic and we have thousands of shifts to fill,” explains Johnson. “Before Andgo was available across the province, we would have been calling people manually to fill those shifts. It may take up to an hour to just phone everyone on the list. Then there was the scheduling part, taking return calls, and manually organizing the information. It would take many people many days to ensure the clinics were adequately staffed.”
“Andgo can contact all 4,000 available employees in one minute. It’s also working in the back end, recording preferred shifts and, if necessary, routing employees’ calls to specific schedulers if employees have questions or need help. Within minutes, thousands of employees know about the shifts. A few hours later, employees have their shifts, and some are already working them.”
Over 58,000 shifts were filled by more than 4,000 employees using Andgo during the mass immunization effort.
“As a Saskatchewan company built by Saskatchewan residents, it meant a lot for us at Andgo to help contribute to this massive effort,” says Andgo CEO Tom Ross. “It’s better for everyone overall if the front-line health-care employees spend their time focusing on administering the vaccine instead of dialing phone numbers and listening to ring tones.”
“That’s something that Andgo and its employees are very proud of.”
Normally, Andgo sends around 400,000 notifications per month. At the height of the immunization campaign, their volume jumped to over 1.6 million notifications per month.
Numerous benefits for employees
Similar to the rest of AIMS, this specific scheduling module will give employees much more control. The modern interface and overall design makes life easier for health-care employees.
The SHA scheduling system that will be built into AIMS provides many benefits for health-care employees.
The system is automated and mobile-friendly. It also runs 24-7, allowing employees in certain organizations to pick up and change shifts on their terms by phone, email, or text. Employees will also be able to:
- View schedules from the past, present, and into the future;
- Request shift trades and leaves;
- Have more control over how they are notified about requests, schedule changes, and exceptions;
- Have more options for entering their time at work;
- Identify their availability; and
- Input exceptions on shifts for sick days, vacation, and more.
“Similar to the rest of AIMS, this specific scheduling module will give employees much more control,” explains Johnson. “The modern interface and overall design makes life easier for health-care employees.”
Advantages for the Saskatchewan health-care system and patients
Once the scheduling portion of AIMS launches, the advantages of this scheduling system will be available to units across the Saskatchewan health-care system.
In real time, scheduling information will be available to health-care units. This information will allow them to see who is working where and which areas are short-staffed. This visibility will allow for targeted notifications as well as for pre-booking shifts to ensure there is adequate coverage.
All of these benefits for employees and the Saskatchewan health-care system add up to a better patient experience. A system that empowers employees and facilitates consistent scheduling ensures that the right providers are in the right place at the right time for patients.