Blog | HR |
10 Min Read
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February 2, 2024

A Complete Guide to Time Management in Healthcare

by Morris Isaacson

Modern workplaces are increasingly distributed and dynamic. The healthcare industry has even more to manage: flex time, shift swaps, and the complexities of nursing schedules can stretch traditional HR methods to their limits. Employers are adapting — largely with the help of time-tracking software. 

Keeping tabs on time spent is paramount for managers, team leaders, payroll professionals and contractors. The most efficient and accurate way to track and analyze employee hours is through time-tracking software. 

Time-tracking solutions range from simple digital time logs to feature-rich HR platforms with many features. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about this category of software. You’ll also learn about the best software options for time tracking in the healthcare industry and more — along with recommendations on how to best utilize these tools.

The future of time-tracking software

 

The time-tracking software market is growing at over 20% per year, and businesses of all sizes across all industries utilize this technology solution to increase productivity and trim costs. 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic massively increased demand for employee monitoring and time-tracking solutions due to increased remote and hybrid work. Before the pandemic, 23% of employees in remote-capable jobs worked from home all or most of the time, compared to 71% in October 2020. Employers responded by adopting more monitoring and remote time tracking solutions — many of these tools have remained in use in the post-pandemic workplace. 

 

Beyond basic time tracking, the remote work shift in 2020 led to increased demand for tools that measured employee “productivity.” Various tools began offering employee productivity scores to managers, often based on rudimentary metrics like mouse movement and keystrokes. This approach drew criticism from many HR experts but remains popular in some industries today.

In past years, time tracking tools have been relatively basic. That’s no longer the case, as features expand to match demand from increasingly sophisticated remote and hybrid work operations. 

The future of time tracking software will become more innovative and automated, with artificial intelligence (AI) prompting one of the biggest shifts as well as the following:
  • Intelligent time blocking

    AI will help optimize employee schedules.

  • Customizable reports

    These will better assist managers in utilizing time tracking data.

  • Collaborative tracking

    Remote workers will work together more effectively and succinctly with a shared understanding of how they spend their time.

  • Energy expenditure tracking

    This trend will revolutionize the workplace by measuring the amount of physical and mental energy employees exert in workplace tasks.

  • Biometric integration

    Time tracking will reach new automation heights, incorporating facial and fingerprint recognition to eliminate errors and steer away from manual methods.

Increasingly, time tracking features are being implemented into broader human capital management and HR platforms. Companies are opting for all-in-one solutions instead of a one-off time tracking tool. 

 

This approach has significant benefits. By syncing employee scheduling, time tracking and payroll management, HR teams can save time and ensure accuracy in payroll processing.

Features to consider with time tracking software in the healthcare industry

 

The healthcare industry presents unique challenges for HR professionals. The most significant are scheduling complex caregiver shifts, tracking billable hours (often at different hourly rates), ensuring compliance and keeping costs down in a tight labor market. 

Healthcare time tracking and scheduling software can help with these challenges. Compliance should be top of mind when considering a time tracking software. Any software used in a healthcare setting must also comply with all applicable rules and regulations, including labor laws, patient privacy acts like HIPAA and even labor union rules for employees. For this reason, healthcare firms choose tools specifically designed for the medical industry. 

Essential features should include integrations with payroll and scheduling systems, variable shift rates and mobile device compatibility. 

Healthcare-specific software solutions like Empeon offer the most robust system for medical clinics, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies. Empeon combines employee scheduling features with time tracking and payroll processing functionality. Managers can oversee shift assignments, collect employee timesheets and run payroll using one system. Caregivers can request time off, track hours worked, swap shifts with coworkers and view shift availability from any device, including smartphones.

Best practices for employee time tracking software

To experience the benefits of time tracking tools, consider these common best practices:

Log time automatically

 

Two broad methods to track employee time are manually logging hours into a timesheet or logging time automatically using a software solution. 

There are two types of time tracking apps:

 

  • Automatic/always-on trackers: Run automatically in the background, tracking activity and hours worked.
  • Manual/start-stop trackers: Starts tracking time once the employee has clocked in or opened the app. 

Automatic logging is more efficient and less prone to user errors. However, some automatic tracking tools are not applicable in all settings; they only function when the employee is actively working on a computer. 

Utilize accurate time tracking tools

 

Teams should utilize a software solution that’s accurate and well-suited to their specific needs. HR professionals must look for features applicable to their businesses, focusing on any features affecting employee compliance, productivity and tracking accuracy. 

 

For example, employees working in nursing homes will likely require mobile-friendly time trackers. Meanwhile, managers may prefer apps that offer employees’ geo verification to confirm that reported time matches precisely with assigned shifts. 

With Empeon, nursing homes and healthcare firms can manage employee time tracking, scheduling, payroll and more all in one place. Empeon’s mobile app offers convenience for employees and the flexibility to log time from multiple locations (with comprehensive geo verification to confirm details).

Organize time by project or patient

 

Segmenting time logs into specific projects or patients allows managers to extract key insights into how many resources a project or client consumes.

Most time tracking solutions offer ways to tag hours logged to a specific project. Some have simple start/stop timers that run independently for each project or client. Others log total hours worked and then require employees to tag time segments to specific projects manually.

Sync timesheets with employee scheduling

 

Teams should sync employee time tracking with scheduling efforts — ideally using an all-in-one software solution. This makes it simpler to match planned shift schedules with actual time worked. Plus, using a single tool reduces employee friction, potentially increasing compliance. 
Sync timesheets with employee scheduling

With a robust caregiver shift scheduling software, healthcare firms can proactively manage schedules, adapt on the spot to employee call-outs and maintain budget control efforts all in one place. The time management software module allows employees to clock in using their mobile devices and automatically syncs time logs with scheduling, PTO accrual and payroll workflows. 

Add references and notes

 

If your time tracking technology supports it, adding notes and references to time logs is beneficial — particularly when an anomaly from the scheduled shift or a project timeline gets extended. 

Traditionally, these notes or references were emailed to HR or managers directly. For example, “I spent the morning responding to an emergency with this client account,” or “I had to fill in for a last-minute call-out, so my afternoon was logged at a secondary location.” By adding these notes and references to time tracking software, employees can get ahead of any HR questions — without unnecessary exchanges. 

Use data to analyze trends

 

A primary benefit of efficient time tracking is that it provides management with accurate data on how employees spend their time. This data can reflect organizational, departmental and individual employee performance and productivity. It’s also vital for workforce planning and financial budgeting. The specific applications of this data analysis vary by industry.

For example, in a healthcare setting, time tracking software tracks and analyzes nursing hours per patient day (HPPD), an important metric for budgeting and patient care standards. 

Use data to analyze trends

In client-facing firms, time tracking data can help identify accounts that are eating up more resources than projected and are less profitable than others.

In most industries, time tracking data can help identify potential problem areas in how employees spend their time. It can also help track the impact of institutional and management changes — implementing a new remote work policy, for instance — over time.

Enable reminders and alerts ​

 

Time tracking doesn’t need to be a passive toolset. Solutions that offer notifications and alerts can help align teams and simplify management.

Some apps can remind employees of their work schedules ahead of time and potentially send notifications when a scheduled break is approaching. This is particularly useful when the app has a robust mobile device. Younger employees, in particular, may prefer to log time and receive notifications via mobile devices. 

On the management side, a comprehensive time tracking solution allows HR professionals to receive alerts when employees hit certain thresholds. For example, some offer automated notifications when an employee approaches the overtime hours threshold. This allows for more proactive fiscal budgeting and helps avoid unexpected payroll surprises. 

Balance oversight without micromanaging ​

 

From a management perspective, time-tracking data can provide insight into employee activity and productivity. The temptation to exploit this data is understandable, but balancing employee autonomy with an appropriate level of management oversight for employee satisfaction and privacy is important. 

For example, comparing relative productivity between teams and individual employees is appropriate. Detailed reports from time tracking software can inform these comparisons. However, using time-tracking data against employees or utilizing insights to micromanage an employee’s workflow is likely problematic.

Healthcare-specific tech solutions can balance oversight with worker autonomy. Managers can automatically verify certain information (such as the geographical location of shifts logged) without direct interaction with the employee. 

Limit access to sensitive data

 

Most time tracking data isn’t particularly sensitive. But for some industries, special precautions are required.

For example, healthcare firms should keep patient data secure and separate from standard HR workflows. It’s appropriate to have time logs reflect a patient’s first name and last initial, for example, but you shouldn’t store sensitive medical information in these systems. 

Additionally, HR teams should ensure that salary data is kept private. If your time tracking system syncs with payroll, make sure that employees only have access to the salary and pay information that’s relevant to them. 

Empeon protects data using industry-leading data security measures. For example, only users with appropriate permissions can access potentially sensitive data due to segmented data in each module.

How to choose time tracking software for your business

There are many different time tracking solutions available. Selecting the right one depends on various factors, and each workplace has different needs. In addition to the features discussed above, here’s what else to consider when choosing a software solution. 

Single-purpose vs. multi-purpose apps

 

Broadly speaking, there are two categories of time tracking software: those offering many features, including time tracking, and those that are just for tracking time. 

Time tracking-only services are generally inexpensive while offering more limited features. They also don’t necessarily have data security or HIPAA compliance in mind, as many of these tools are generalist solutions serving many industries. 

Multi-purpose apps often bundle several functions together. For instance, an app might track employee hours while compiling payroll records. Some are full-fledged HR suites, covering everything from talent acquisition to scheduling and benefits management.

Compatibility with your current tools

 

Some time trackers can integrate with your payroll and scheduling tools to cut down on manual workflows. Some offer native integrations, while others can sync with third-party tools like Zapier. 

To maximize efficiency, look for a tracker that either integrates with your existing tools or offers enough functionality to replace multiple software in your current tech stack.

Generalist vs. industry-specific

 

There are hundreds of generic time tracking tools that can work for a variety of businesses. But for the specific needs of healthcare operations, only a handful fit the bill.

It’s best to choose an industry-specific solution. A generalist software may be built with freelancers or remote workers in mind and won’t necessarily suit the needs of a healthcare workforce.

Empeon is the best healthcare time tracking software

Empeon is an HR, payroll, scheduling, and employee time management software suite tailor-made for modern businesses. Here are some key features Empeon offers.

  • Time & Labor Management module

    The Time & Labor Management module is built into Empeon’s robust feature set and includes straightforward tools for employees to clock in and track their time.

  • Employees can quickly log time

    Geolocation confirms employees’ physical location, matching worked shifts to assigned shifts, making tracking time at multiple locations more straightforward. You can also make these updates using a mobile device.

  • Full-featured scheduling workloads with time tracking

    Managers can assign shifts, manage time off requests, automate low-level approvals and prepare timesheets for payroll. Employees can utilize self-service tools like time-off and shift swap requests to reduce manual back-and-forth comms.

  • Employee time logs automatically sync with payroll

    You can configure Empeon to apply variable wage rates at different locations and for different services. Set shift differentials, holiday bonus pay and even union-related calculations. Meanwhile, employees can quickly track their earnings vs. time logged and preview their upcoming pay period report in the app.

  • Centralized Human Capital Management

    Empeon simplifies major tasks from payroll processing, talent acquisition and benefits management to employee scheduling, attendance tracking and detailed reporting.

  • Customized onboarding

    Empeon tailors custom solutions to the needs of each business. Empeon can help firms eliminate redundancies and save money by combining multiple tools into one powerful suite.

With Empeon, everything from payroll processing to client billing becomes clearer and more automated. The key benefit is the centralized, automated and user-friendly solution.


Empeon’s solutions are customizable and robust. Our experts take the time to learn about your business processes, needs and workflows to better understand how our tools can optimize your business. 

Ultimately, Empeon’s mission is simple: To help you empower your people, simplify your processes and grow your business. Explore all the solutions Empeon offers today.

Time tracking software should be a part of your tech suite — but choose wisely

Time tracking tools can serve a variety of important roles in the modern workplace, from ensuring deliverables are on track to billing accurately to enhancing workplace productivity. Choosing the right solution is paramount. 

For firms operating in the healthcare, long-term care, rehabilitation or senior living industries, look no further than Empeon. 

Empeon focuses on syncing scheduling, time tracking and payroll to simplify the workflows in a nursing setting, enabling your team to focus on serving patients and empowering people. Get in touch with Empeon today.


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