In this episode of “The Doctor’s Life” podcast, host Dianne Ansari-Winn, MD speaks with Suvas Vajracharya, PhD about AI scheduling and how it can be utilized to fight against physician burnout. Dr. Vajracharya is the founder and CEO of Lightning Bolt Solutions, a company which has developed the leading artificial intelligence technology for physician scheduling. Dr. Vajracharya worked as a staff scientist at the Los Alamos National Lab before he began creating solutions for physician scheduling using AI. Throughout their conversation, Dr. Dianne and Dr. Vajracharya discuss the pathway to his now current profession, the struggles of physician scheduling, and how Lightning Bolt Solutions is working to reduce physician burnout and get doctors in front of their patients instead of their calendars.

As the conversation begins, Dr. Vajracharya tells the story of what led him to found Lightning Bolt Solutions. While he was working at Los Alamos scheduling supercomputers, he was approached by a high school friend from Wisconsin about resolving scheduling conflicts for a group of internal medicine doctors. Through this process, he learned about the complexities of scheduling physicians and developed the software to harness the scheduling expertise of doctors while outsourcing the heavy lifting to computers. Although the founding of Lightning Bolt Solutions didn’t happen until much later in his career, this early work in software scheduling was pivotal for teaching him the scope of the problem, and ultimately led to the creation of the company.

Additionally, Dr. Dianne and Dr. Vajracharya unpack the complexities and problems involved in scheduling doctors. They talk about how the most fundamental problem with scheduling is trying to meet a plethora of conflicting variables. These variables include providing a healthy work-life balance, meeting personal scheduling preferences, allotting vacation time while also keeping the institution open, fairly distributing holiday working hours, staying personally unbiased, and preventing burnout. The possible number of schedules that can be made based on this long list of variables is endless, and many doctors are losing countless hours that ought to be spent with patients staring at calendars and spreadsheets. As Dr. Vajracharya explains, that’s exactly where Lightning Bolt steps in to help.

Dr. Vajracharya walks the listeners through the process that Lightning Bolt implements in order to delegate the scheduling tasks to a computer by having a “brain dump” with the doctor and inputting all of the variables into their software. During this dialogue, he and Dr. Dianne discuss the correlation of scheduling to doctor turnover rates and physician burnout. He then provides empirical evidence of how Lightning Bolt’s software has worked to reduce burnout and turnover rates in the places it has been implemented. In summary, this conversation provides an insightful glance into the ways that AI is being harnessed to help doctors reach their full potential and guard themselves against personal and professional burnout.

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