According to the Cambridge English Dictionary “a situation or subject that people disagree strongly about and that no one wants to deal with is called a hot potato.” I can’t think of a worse idea than passing the physician on-call and shift schedule creation from doctor to doctor each year or two. The reason I think it’s such a bad idea is that it doesn’t solve the problem, in fact it will make it significantly worse, here’s why:
- No consistency. Each new physician who takes over the task more than likely is going to think that the person before him/her was not doing it correctly. Therefore, they are going to try and develop a new process or do it their way. Here’s the kicker, since they don’t have any “scheduling” experience, it’s probably going to stink or be worse than it was before.
- No long-term ownership. Why would you invest time and energy in fixing something that you are only going to do/have for a short time? More than likely you would not. This is one of the reasons it doesn’t get better.
- No reason to develop a long-term process/solution: This is most often die to the lack of ownership. It’s no one’s job to make it better.
- Making it 10 times harder than it needs to be: This is referred to as over complexifying. With all due respect to physicians, many tend to be so intelligent that they attempt to make the process a lot more complex than it needs to be. This often is another reason that there is not consistency year over year because one person’s idea of greatness is another person’s idea of craziness.
- The value of time: In many studies, including the "Medscape National Physician Burnout and Depression Report of 2018" burnout continues to be a pervasive issue among physicians. Knowing this, why would you burden a doctor who is already burdened with an administrative task that is known to cause frustration, anger, and unhappiness, and then on top of it ask them to do it on their free time?
Passing the physician on-call and shift schedule creation from doctor to doctor does not work. It makes a bad problem worse. The goal becomes to survive “your term” and “pass the hot potato” to the next sucker. A great alternative to this way of thinking is to solve the problem once and for all. Buy or create a physician schedule system that manages the creation and daily change process, while making the tasks that stink easier for the scheduler and allow this to be done by an administrative assistant under the watchful eye of a practice administrator or physician. By doing this you will find so many unknown benefits, here’s a few just off the top of my head.
- Automatically syncing schedules with doctor’s phones
- Everyone has instant access to accurate/live information
- Doctors can request time off and make swaps from an app on their phone
- Tally and fairness reports can be run in a second
- Complex scheduling rules can be automated
- Limits can be honored
- Written, documented process that can be replicated
- Electronic back-ups
Key Takeaway: systems solve problems, passing the hot potato from one doctor to another does not, in fact, it makes things worse. Take the time and spend the money to solve the problem once and for all. To learn more about purchasing physician scheduling software check out my last post "7 Tips for Getting your Physician Scheduling Software Approved".
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