Getting it Right: Providence Health Using AI to Promote More Flexible Work Schedules
Hospital personnel consistently rank "more flexible work schedules" and "better work-life balance" as among their top-rated issues. These same desires are also, no surprise, strongly correlated with retention and with burnout. Organizations which place a premium on promoting work-life balance and/or flexible work schedules have better rates of staff retention and less burnout; conversely, employers which pay little or no attention to those desired attributes have more physician turnover and greater rates of burnout.
So I read with interest a recent news brief by Dave Fornell (HealthExec, September 25) profiling Natalie Edgeworth, senior manager, Workforce Optimization and Innovation, at Providence Health System.
Under Ms. Edgeworth's direction, Providence has developed a homegrown, AI-enabled staffing algorithm which was created for the express purpose of fostering greater flexibility in work schedules throughout its 52 hospitals and 40 service lines across 7 different states.
A Textbook Example of Excellent Healthcare Leadership Qualities and Practices
My enthusiasm for this effort is not because it relies on machine learning -- indeed, in the interest of full disclosure, I have not seen a demonstration of the scheduling solution -- but rather because Providence's approach is a textbook example of the leadership qualities and practices which my Organizational Wellbeing Solutions colleague Paul DeChant, MD, MBA and I routinely recommend to hospital and health system leaders.
Specifically among the things Providence gets right are --
developing a solution directly in response to the expressed concerns and interests of front-line staff (ie, for more flexible work schedules and greater work-life balance)
involving front-line staff in the design and testing of the solution
making it easier for clinical staff to work at the top of their license, thereby increasing job satisfaction
reducing unnecessary or wasted time and effort by managers manually creating, amending, and tracking staff work schedules (a reduction from between 4 and 20 hours of managers' time down to 15 minutes), thus freeing them up to focus more of their time on patient care and staff development -- precisely the activities which excite most clinical managers and add value to an organization
pursuing a people-centered approach that seeks to achieve better results at the same or lower cost
An Excellent Solution to a Healthcare Organization Problem
Again, the attraction here is not that Providence is using AI/MLto tackle a particular issue. Rather, it is the way the health system went about developing and deploying a solution in response to a problem vexing most healthcare organizations. Kudos to Providence and to Ms. Edgeworth and her team!
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