Challenges In Scheduling In-Home ABA Sessions
Authorized Hours and Client/Family Preference
Behavior analysts work hard to obtain authorization for prescribed treatment hours. However, it often happens that the number of authorized hours is not lining up with a client or family’s availability or preference. It can be challenging to balance what a clinician deems medically necessary and what works for a family or client.
Clinician Availability and Schedule Changes
Additionally, clinicians also have schedule availabilities and preferences that can be hard for the organization to accommodate. There may be several requests for certain days and times while there is little preference or availability for other times. This can make it difficult to create and maintain a consistent schedule for clients that also works for their clinicians. Unexpected schedule changes and staff turnover can also be challenging to manage when there are multiple schedules to consider and the overall treatment consistency and efficacy for the client.
When a clinician is working full days, there must be times for meals. Taking this break is not only for the clinician to eat, but also for the organization to stay in compliance with labor laws and requirements for work breaks. Meal breaks can be especially challenging when there is traveling involved, often leaving clinicians to eat meals while they are driving from one session to another. Eating while driving is not only physically dangerous due to distractibility while driving, but it also does not allow the clinician to have a proper break from work. Additionally, this can also lead the clinician to make poor meal choices that include quick and fast foods. While finding time to schedule a proper meal break can be challenging, it is important for the overall well-being of the clinician providing in-home ABA services.
It is important to consider the time it takes to get from one session to another. If a clinician’s sessions are across town or in different towns, it will require more travel time than a clinician who has two sessions in the same neighborhood. Schedulers typically look at a clinician’s schedule and see how long it will take for them to travel from one appointment to the next. If a new session is getting inserted between two existing sessions, the scheduler then needs to check BOTH travel times (Session 1 to the New Session and the New Session to Session 2). After going through this process, it may be discovered that the clinician cannot provide enough service, meaning the scheduler has to go through the whole process again with another clinician.
Matching Staff with Clients
One of the intricate components of scheduling within larger ABA practices is matching staff with clients for sessions on the calendar. The difficulty arises due to rotating schedules, unique client needs, geographic considerations, client preferences, language needs, and varying difficulty levels among other factors.
AI Can Reduce Scheduling Challenges
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) to solve organizational challenges is a growing trend in many professions. ABA is no exception. With the increased use of technology-driven solutions, it is not surprising that AI would be the next step in reducing administrative and clinical stress in behavior analysis while bridging the capacity gap between those who need services and the supply of expert clinicians and technicians For in-home ABA session scheduling, AI can:
- Reduce manual effort – It will no longer take hours of work (and Tetris-like abilities) to find the best in-home session schedule for clients and clinicians, as the AI scheduler will take all considerations into account while optimizing the schedule for everyone.
- Improve staff productivity and satisfaction – By optimizing drive time and available hours, clinicians can focus more on service delivery when their schedules best meet their needs.
- Increase revenue through optimized scheduling - As organizations scale, AI can reduce the scale of scheduling burden and the need to hire exponential scheduling staff. Allowing schedulers to focus more on family engagement/interaction and clinicians to provide more service because they are minimally impacted by travel and timing difficulties. It can also help increase revenue by finding opportunities to increase authorization utilization so you leave less money on the table.
- Find Provider Cancellation Coverage – When provider cancelations occur, schedulers need a fast way to find coverage for providers calling out. AI can take into consideration many factors around client preferences and provider experience to find coverage for clients, in just seconds.
The Future of AI in ABA
Scheduling is only the beginning in what AI can do for the field of ABA. If AI is used for other tasks that take time away from clinical work, behavior analysts will be able to focus more on providing high-quality and effective treatment rather than administrative work. For example, treatment plans and assessment reports may soon be automated by AI, with the clinician only needing to feed the AI program the relevant and individualized data and getting a document that is almost ready to be submitted to supervisors and/or funders. Starting with programs like CR ScheduleAI can be a good way for clinicians to experience how AI can optimize their ABA practice before more advanced uses of this technology become widely available.