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Physician On-Call Scheduling and On-Call Management Blog
by Justin Wampach

Considering an On-Call Scheduling Software Pilot? Which Specialty?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Mon, Feb 19, 2018 @ 11:43 AM



We speak with practice administrators and IT professionals all the time who are interested in conducting a pilot or trial of physician on-call scheduling software within their organization. What helps sell a project better to management than a trial or proof of concept?  Great idea in theory, but what many don’t know is which specialty calendar/department to use as the test case. Sometimes they will often pick the most difficult specialty or the group that is screaming the loudest at that time. Or sometimes they will pick a department who has the primary user who is unwilling or unable to participate in the process. How should a practice decide who to use in a trial? What goes into a trial? What we have found is that the person leading the pilot can and is often more important than which specialty itself is choosen.

Here are some characteristics that may be helpful when selecting candidates. Obviously, there are not hard and fast rules in this process, but make no mistake, the department/specialty as well as who from that specialty you choose to do the work will have a tremendous amount of impact on the success or failure of the project.  If you would like more information about selecting vendors check out a previous blog post "11 Traits that your Physician Scheduling Vendor Should Have".

Characteristics of someone that would be a good candidate for a trial:

  • Excited about trying something new and or thinking about the problem in a new way
  • Clearly understands the current manual / paper process and how to schedule physicians
  • Does not have to ask someone else’s permission or how-to when it comes to process
  • Understands technology and software
  • Understands that software is an iterative process
  • Has clear and reasonable goals regarding what outcomes it is expecting
  • Willing to complete training / onboarding
  • Is not trying to mimic current paper/manual process with software
  • Is willing to do the homework or necessary data entry in-order-to evaluate results
  • Understands that there several people who need to receive value from this type of software within an organization and everyone’s will be different
  • IS willing to commit to goals and success criteria for the trial so that it is not a moving target for your vendor partners

Characteristics of someone that would not be a good candidate for a trail:

  • Schedules but cancels many training sessions
  • When in a training session, not present (texting, answering emails)
  • Trying to mimic current manual process
  • Unwilling to do homework, data entry
  • Unwilling to run scenarios (thinks it should be perfect the first time)
  • Doesn’t understand the difference between rules and preferences
  • Doesn’t understand the difference between a user not knowing how to do something and the software application not being able to do something
  • Unreasonable expectations based on what a blank sheet of paper can do
  • Is more concerned with counting clicks than results

Characteristics of a Group / Department NOT to Choose:

  • Not a group with the most difficult, eat-your-face-off calendar that no one has been able to figure out in years. 50 doctors and 100 jobs
  • Not the simplest schedule either with 5 doctors and 1 job
  • Not a group or department that is in the process of merging or in some way changing
  • Not a group with a new scheduler
  • Not a group with a scheduler who is just handed a paper schedule by a doctor and then they just enter it into software (doesn’t actually create the schedule)
  • Not a group where the doctors can’t agree on what “fair” looks like
  • Not a group who has a scheduler who knows it all and is not interested in changing
  • Not a group where the scheduler is using the scheduling software as a “secret weapon”
  • Not a group where the scheduler will not let other users (doctors) use certain features
  • Not a group where the users are unwilling to recognize how the entire enterprise level projects fits together

Tip: I know it may be counter intuitive but remember that vendor/partners also have a rigorous selection criterion for giving a potential customer a trials and pilot. If the vendor gets a department schedule that is next to impossible to automate or schedulers who are unwilling to participate in the process, it can be disastrous.  If both the vendor and the department work hard to select the right people and get the work done together, the proof-of-concept should be a win/win every time. 

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