Leveraging digital technology to improve staffing and scheduling in healthcare organizations

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Tune in to hear TeamBuilder’s David Howard and Mea Parikh discuss how healthcare organizations can leverage digital technology to improve staffing and scheduling. Topics include:

  • The concept and evolution of Team Builder
  • The transition to help organizations solve broader industry challenges related to labor
  • Highlights of what providers find more useful and effective
  • Lessons learned from getting caregivers and administrators to change the way they work while building trust

Topics: healthcare, healthcare organizations, technology, staffing, digital, health industries, data, transformation, labor markets, consumer, patients, workforce management, workforce transformation, trust

Episode transcript

Find episode transcript below.


00:00:03:25 Welcome to Next in Health podcast, I'm Jenny Colapietro PwC’s Vice Chair for Health Industries, working across Pharmaceuticals, MedTech, Payers and Providers. In our 2023 outlook, we emphasized the need for health organizations to address the staffing challenges and make better use of technology.

00:00:22:07 And today we have some folks who are solving this challenge every day. I'm excited that we are joined today by David Howard and Mea Parikh from TeamBuilder to discuss how healthcare organizations can leverage digital technology to improve staffing and scheduling.

00:00:38:00 David is the Founder and Mea is the Head of Operations of TeamBuilder. Welcome, David and Mea, thanks for joining us today.


00:00:46:01 Glad to be here.


00:00:46:09 Thanks, Jenny.


00:00:48:04 So for those who aren't familiar, could you tell us a little bit about TeamBuilder and the origin of the story?


00:00:54:06 Yeah, happy to, TeamBuilder is a new staff scheduling technology that helps managers execute the scheduling process, ensuring the right people are in the right place at the right time while balancing cost, access and experience.

00:01:08:25 We built TeamBuilder to focus on the position, enterprise, ambulatory space as it's now growing to be greater than 50% of health system revenue. The concept for TeamBuilder goes back as early as 2014, and after about ten years of consulting in this space, we validated our hypothesis that there is a chronic mismatch in resources by location, by hour, by day.

00:01:33:22 That's actually leading to access, provider burnout and unnecessary costs. The legacy approach of using rules of thumb, ratio-based metrics to understand staffing really wasn't hitting the mark.

00:01:48:04 And in working with a large-scale public sector healthcare provider, we began work to explore alternative approaches to the heuristics that could be used to better understand who to staff, where and when.

00:02:00:19 We created a data architecture and design for a solution that would solve the issue and tested it on an array of health systems and was really well received. We then did a proof of concept with a large AMC in rebuilding their schedules across an array of locations and specialties for a year.

00:02:21:04 And what we found is at the end of the day, there was a mismatch of every appointment slot, 62% of the time by more than one FTE, either too high or too low and the net savings was really pretty eye-popping.

00:02:39:05 It was north of 20%. So really what we ended up finding is that they were scheduling on a relatively static and fixed basis and not matching the demand, which was leading to really problematic access, inexperience problems for patients and staff.

00:02:55:19 And while that was successful, it was a consulting exercise at the time. And while it was an important topic in the 2015-16 range, it wasn't the topic that it's become today.


00:03:09.01 David, that's great. It's great to hear about the concept and the evolution and just as an impact that you saw. How did you make the transition from that experience to helping organizations solve broader industry challenges related to labor?


00:03:22:14 I could take that one, Jenny. You fast forward to 2020 and the entire healthcare market had been rocked due to the pandemic and care delivery models that every single health system at that point went into question due to the extreme staffing shortages and financial challenges that they were seeing.

00:03:39:14 And it wasn't just this external environment that had kind of changed; it was also the consumer and the labour markets that really shifted dramatically as well.

00:03:49:01 We were seeing patient preferences of how and where they wanted to receive care had changed. And then there was this shift in workforce preferences of where and when and how much they wanted to work. So it was kind of this combination of between the market changes, the extreme challenges in staffing.

00:04:07:29 Really, the time was right for technology to kind of come into the market that could really disrupt the space and then drive change around the experience for staff, patients as well as the provider. So TeamBuilder really tries to improve that experience for staff, improve the patient experience, improve patient care, and also helps you be able to do more with less.

00:04:31:13 So in 2020 to 2021, we raised capital, developed the product and then went live with a beta partner and have seen really great results today.


00:04:40.07 That's great to hear Mia and love to hear about the results on a particularly patient experience in patient care. Can we dig in a little bit, can you describe for our listeners just the magic of the team builder technology and what would you highlight the providers find the most useful and effective?


00:04:58:06 Yeah, happy to, TeamBuilder is not just a digital schedule, nor is it retrospective analytics or reporting tool. It actively engages with its users to drive change. In addition to aligning schedules appropriately, it allows organizations that want to be more progressive, looking into staff flexing, flow pools, per diem models which cannot be done today using paper-based approaches.

00:05:24:26 TeamBuilder uses actual volume by hour, by day for all of the provider activity into a location and the workflow it takes to do the work that day, including variable and fixed time. One of the most complicated parts, though, is they're solving around constraints. So, these include minimum requirements, skill set, shift durations, matching to the staff that meets those criteria.

00:05:51:10 The technology allows all of these calculations to happen concurrently in milliseconds. So we're really proud that after years of development, this unique approach is patent pending and live in the market now. Decreasing time to do cumbersome administrative tasks, digitizing a process, allowing for the visibility across locations that wasn't previously possible, aligning resources, improves the experience across providers, staff and patients.

00:06:21:14 So in a time of asking staff and providers to do more, TeamBuilder is actually making it easier. And in addition to that, a real key takeaway that still kind of boggles our minds a little bit is really the concept of staffing shortages. And it's really challenging the question of do you really know the staffing that you need or is there a chance that there may not be a shortage and just the team is in the wrong place at the wrong time?

00:06:49:10 And we find that organizations, when really pressed and have the discussion, maybe going off of a rule of thumb, someone's preference, how something has been historically done over the last decades, and they're not really clear of what's needed.


00:07:05.01 David, you mentioned this solution really engages with the user to drive change. So I'd like to pull on that thread a little bit because the people component was always the most challenging piece, right? What are some of your lessons learned from getting caregivers and administrators to truly change the way they work while you're building trust with them?


00:07:24.04 Yeah, Jenny, I would say there are two key themes that we often see when it comes to the people part. The first is really around the burnout piece that David kind of touched on, and the second is change. So with the burnout, I think what we're seeing is we're in a really tough time. There's just a lot on everybody's plate.

00:07:43.03 So sometimes taking on something new just kind of feels like one more thing that you have to do. And then I also think that caregivers and administrators are burdened by the experience of past technology implementations while they're extremely transformative, they're often have been extremely costly and multiyear.

00:08:02:12 You know, in regards to the change piece, our company is thinking about how to staff teams in a totally different way and change is hard, especially when you've gone through years of doing things the same way.

00:08:15.02 So what we've found over the last few years of being in the market is we spend a lot of time upfront helping organizations understand the methodology and the data science that goes into our staffing methodology and we work together to kind of co-develop the configurations and the requirements that go into the data science.

00:08:36.02 So that the teams in operations feel very comfortable with what's going in and they also understand how and why the recommendations are coming out in the way that they are. We also try to educate organizations upfront that although TeamBuilder and other technology, the implementation is actually very light and quick in comparison to their past experiences.

00:09:00.07 We usually can do training in two days and honestly, the value that you get just from digitizing your scheduling processes, it saves you so much time and managers and staff, and they're seeing those results almost immediately.

00:09:14.01 The whole idea for us as an organization is to really make the manager and staff's life easier and to have a data-driven approach to ensuring that they do have the right people in the right place to provide patient care.

00:09:27.00 I think another piece around the change that we often see, Jenny, is while technology can often facilitate really innovative strategies, specifically with TeamBuilder, I mean we can provide more nimble workforces via foot pools and shift bidding.

00:09:41:26 But I think there needs to be a core understanding of just where the organization is today and really mapping a change management plan that is aligned with what the organization can undertake over time is really important.

00:09:57.02 I think the typical things around getting organizational buy-in at the onset on your transformation goals and creating a clear plan with adoption timelines, clear outcomes always super helpful.

00:10:07.02 And we've also found that thinking about the technology implementation as a crawl walk, then run is also really important when rethinking kind of how you're leveraging your workforce and thinking about them.


00:10:21.09 That makes a lot of sense and definitely resonates with me. This has been great just to learn and understand more about TeamBuilder. So we want to thank you, David and Mia, for joining us today.


00:10:32:23 Thanks for having us.


00:10:33.00 Thanks for having us.


00:10:34.03 Absolutely. For more on these topics and other health industry insights driven by policy, innovation and care delivery changes, please subscribe to our podcast and visit us at pwc.com/US/nextinhealthpodcast to take a look at some older episodes. Until next time, this has been Next in Health.


00:11:01:27 This podcast is brought to you by PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the US member firm or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates, and may sometimes refer to the PwC Network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity.

00:11:15:27 Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details. This podcast is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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Jennifer Colapietro

Jennifer Colapietro

Cloud & Digital Leader, PwC US

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