I’m sure you have heard many times that the 6 most dangerous words in business are “we’ve always done it that way”. I am surprised occasionally when we are conducting annual client success reviews and I hear a practice administrator tell us that they still process vacation requests and other time-off requests for the physicians via email or telephone or even sticky notes. Really?, I ask. How come you don’t do it electronically? I hear something that resembles “the doctors don’t want to change” or “it’s just easier that way”. Is the scheduler resistant to change? read here to find out more in a previous blog post.
As a business leader, I can’t think of anything more contentious than figuring out day’s off and vacations for the team at the top of the food chain. Especially if we have limits regarding how many people can be “off” on any given day. I also think that as a physician, your time off is so valuable and necessary to reduce the possibility of burnout. O-kay. I’m not here judge or to force the use of any features upon a practice. And I certainly understand that each practice has policies and procedures, some of which may be older than myself, that have worked for years. But that old-style thinking has some major flaws that can lead to practice inefficiency. Why change now? If you're using physician scheduling software there are many reasons to give it serious consideration.
The problem with processing vacation and day-off requests via paper or email:
- Schedulers are not telling doctors about the electronic tools available to request time-off.
- Doctors are asking for time off without having immediate feedback regarding their request. For example, “we already have the max number of providers off on that day”.
- Physicians have to submit requests when and how it is most convenient for the scheduler.
- The scheduler is spending extra time processing vacation and day-off requests manually.
- The paper trail for both the scheduler and physician is limited, at best.
- Approved and declined requests do not come back in a consistent manner.
Benefits for the Physicians
- Easy secure access to the Provider Request Area from your laptop, tablet or smart phone.
- Submit requests 24 hours a day. 365 days per year. Very accessible.
- Reference other assignments while submitting your request.
- Edit and retract requests that have not been processed when your plans change.
- Get instant feedback when there are too many pending requests or approved requests on the day that you want off.
- The ability to “override and submit anyway” when you receive the notice of too many requests so that the scheduler knows you still want this day off, even thought it may already be full.
- Using the iPhone or Android app, you can make requests on the go, anytime and anyplace.
Benefits for the Scheduler
- The ability to decide when you will accept electronic vacation and day-off requests and when you will not. (open and close the provider request area at will)
- Decide what types of requests your providers can submit. You choose which day-off types display in the down-down lists.
- Decide how many “total days” each provider gets per day type. How many vacation days, how many CME days, etc.
- Limit the number of providers that can be off on each day of the week. For example, only 3 people can be on vacation on Monday’s. Even choose a specific day, “black Friday or cyber Monday”.
- Customize the message a physician is sent when a request is approved, declined or the max number has been reached.
- Get an email notification each time a new day-off request is submitted.
- Sort all unprocessed requests by provider, date submitted, date effected, or assignment.
- If you have a multi-step process, visual indication of an “update” to a request.
- Quickly do an advanced search to review all past approved and denied requests.
- Edit or change the request type on the fly
- Once you approve a “request” it will automatically place the assignment on the calendar and update the tally report.
Key takeaway: It's clear that giving your physicians easy tools to request vacations and time-off has a lot of benefits for both the physicians and the scheduler. These benefits can save time, prevent errors and contribute to a more satisfied medical staff within your practice.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net