How to buy EMS scheduling software

EMS agencies have lots of options for scheduling staff; these software features are important and useful

Article updated December 11, 2017

From a paper calendar, ballpoint pen and bottle of whiteout to an organization’s intranet and Web-based scheduling systems, EMS agencies have lots of options for scheduling EMTs and paramedics. As a user of scheduling software, I think these features are important and useful:

  1. Web-based and smartphone access to my schedule and the abilitry to bid on available shifts from anywhere I have an internet connection.
  2. Email and/or text message notification of open shifts or schedule changes.
  3. Synchronization with timecard software so I don't have to punch in on both the scheduling software and a time clock.
  4. Administrator oversight to ensure fairness in filling open overtime shifts and making shift trades.

Scheduling software must have features

Dave Feyereisen, President/CEO of Aladtec (the makers of EMSManager and FireManager scheduling software), told me that agency managers shopping for scheduling software should ensure they have:

  1. Internet access for all employees to complete common tasks like viewing the schedule, submitting availability, shift sign-ups, trading, and requesting time off. A responsive design will ensure compatibility with mobile devices. 
  2. A good track record of up-time and feature improvements. Ask the vendor how long they’ve been in business and how many EMS customers use their product. Employee scheduling for EMS is usually more complex than scheduling for other businesses, so choose a system designed for and used by EMS.
  3. Choose a system that is flexible. For instance, you may require administrator approval for shift sign-ups or trading at first, but as you get more comfortable with the system, you may decide to eliminate these extra administrative steps.

Any scheduling program needs to be easy to use. Programs that are too complex to enter and access data will not be supported by field personnel and you may find yourself managing two calendars and double entering data. That process rapidly leads to mistakes and wasted time.

Finally, just like you should do with any other equipment purchase, talk to customers already using the scheduling software in your area. Ask them about system reliability, ease of use and vendor customer service.

What other features for scheduling software would you suggest? Anything we missed in our list? Leave a comment below or email with your feedback.

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