NurseGrid app is right on schedule

"A nurse’s schedule is often less than surgical.

“It just depends on the nurse,” said Amy Shadburn, a pediatric nurse at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. “I just got off a three-in-a-row. You feel like you’re living at the hospital. Then you have a few days off. It’s a beast.”

Shadburn, 33, has been a nurse for two years. She works nights, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and sometimes three days in a row.

When she started, she was surprised that the hospital’s scheduling software didn’t work for her personal phone or laptop. It made things more complicated, she said, and it was a complication not unique to her own workplace.

A fix came when she was introduced to NurseGrid, a smartphone app aimed at scheduling for nurses. And, it turned out, a former co-worker at the hospital named Zach Smith was helping lead the company behind it.

“There’s a lot of technology within hospitals; it’s not from a lack of trying,” said Smith, a Vancouver native. “We made it very, very simple for nurses to visualize their schedule.”

‘A lot of holes’

NurseGrid, a startup based in Portland, was founded in 2013. Its leadership includes former nurses, such as Smith and CEO Joe Novello, who worked in an emergency room.

“Given our time on the front lines, we saw a lot of holes” in the process, Smith said.

According to the pair, the standard scheduling platforms in hospitals and nursing facilities worked well enough for general staff. But nurses’ schedules are volatile: They are longer and sometimes leak into the next day, and duties change on a regular basis.

Novello said it wasn’t uncommon to see nurses resort to drawing up their own pen-and-paper time sheets.

“If I’m working 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., that’s going to block off two full days,” he said. The kind of work a nurse does on shift changes daily, too, he said. “If I look at my calendar at a glance, I can’t tell what shifts I’m working.”

Nurses also work a succession of days, then take several days off to compensate. It can be a challenge to search through a contact list to find someone to trade shifts, Novello said. NurseGrid’s calendar and messaging capabilities are designed to be an information hub where nurses can coordinate..."