When Melanie Morin had to call down the list for nurses to fill last-minute shifts, she'd reach a “pain point.”
Now, Morin is the CEO and president at StaffStat, a Sudbury-based software company that is automating staff scheduling to eliminate that pain point in health care facilities.
In November, StaffStat gained provincial recognition when they won the Innovator of the Year Award in the Innovator’s Den at the 2016 This is Long-Term Care provincial conference in Toronto.
“We're got a pretty good fan base in the North, the fact that a little company from Northern Ontario gets to go down south against all these people with more access speaks to how relevant the product is,” said Morin.
StaffStat was developed in 2012 by veteran nursing professional Sheri Tomchick, who had started up Plan A Healthcare Staffing in 2011. She hired Morin as her director of services after her “resume fell into her lap.”
The Northern Ontario staffing agency was successful, but Tomchick and Morin were troubled by the amount of time they spent calling their roster of employees to fill missed shifts.
“We couldn't do anything but call-outs,” said Morin, who estimates they'd spend at least five hours a day just filling shifts.
“We looked for automation, but didn't find anything.”
That's when they decided to produce software to automate the process. StaffStat was developed and hosted by Sunwire, another Sudbury-based company.
By 2013, StaffStat was Plan A's in-house scheduling software.
They got their big break in May 2014 when they participated in the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) PITCH competition.
The annual event by the Sudbury innovation centre celebrates innovative ideas in the city. StaffStat won the people's choice award which got them $25,000 worth of services and in-kind development.
With the win, Tomchick and Morin headed towards commercialization, “rather than keep it an in-house secret.”
Since officially launching in November 2014, the team of two has grown to five, and StaffStat is used in 25 different facilities across the province, most are in the North.
Once installed for the client, users manage the system themselves and can tailor it to suit their needs.
Morin said most of their customers employ StaffStat using a seniority function which allows them to take into account previous shifts worked, rotation, and other factors allowing them to assign shifts effectively and fairly.
Plan A uses it a little differently, using the "first-come, first-served" approach, where a shift is posted, and whoever responds to it first gets it.
The software's time-saving feature is one of its biggest benefits, according to users.
“It saves us hours upon hours of telephone calls, it is also an excellent tool for sending mass messages to staff all while tracking every single notification we send,” said Mylène Beadow, an administrator at Manoir North Centennial Manor in Kapuskasing, where they use StaffStat.
At the moment, StaffStat is used from Thunder Bay to Sarnia, primarily in long-term care and community support organizations.
The company plans to grow, their sister organization Plan A already has offices in Timmins, Nipissing, and more recently, Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie.
But, they're pacing themselves and staying focused on StaffStat's original goal for now. “We're not trying to solve a million problems, just getting that major pain point,” said Morin.