How AI-powered scheduling reduced physician burnout at Ochsner Health

Artificial intelligence-based scheduling played a significant role in reducing physician burnout and increasing physician engagement at a Louisiana health system, according to research presented at American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Advance 2022, an anesthesiology business event.

New Orleans-based Ochsner Health switched from an Excel spreadsheet, which only allotted for one or two variations after accounting for days-off requests, call schedules and fair implementation of early versus late days. To an AI-powered scheduling software that granted anesthesiologists more vacation days, increased flexibility and predictability. 

"We implemented AI scheduling of anesthesiologists in 2018 to increase control and flexibility and quickly saw the benefits," Dhruv Choudhry, MD, lead author of the study and anesthesiology resident at New Orleans-based Ochsner Health said. "On average, the scheduling allows our anesthesiologists to have one or two mornings and one or two afternoons off a month to allow for increased work-life balance so they are better able to attend events important to them."

The study found that after six months of deploying the AI system, engagement scores from 60 anesthesiologists increased from 3.3 to 4.2 out of 5.

"While the staff-created schedule took 60 hours to 75 hours per month, the AI system generates the schedule over a 14-hour period and essentially generates an unlimited number of combinations to deliver the best schedule option for the department," said Dr. Choudhry. "Our physicians understand that a long day or week will be reciprocated in the future with a shorter day or week, which was not possible with the previous system."

Physicians could also use the AI scheduler to request preferences for ICU work or operating room work, which according to the study, reduced anxiety for staff.

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