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

10 Mistakes Doctors Have Made Buying On-call Software (part 2)

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, May 11, 2012 @ 09:48 AM

describe the imageDoctors who wish to enhance their practice and provide better care and service to their patients and themselves by using physician scheduling software are on the right track. Unfortunately, they don’t always go about it the right way.

Last week we posted three of the top ten mistakes that doctors have made when purchasing call scheduling software.  Here is a recap of the top 3, along with number four through ten.

  1. Wanting too many bells and whistles. 

  2. Trying to save a penny. 

  3. Thinking someone else understand your business.

  4. Losing sight of the basics – KISS:  Your primary aim is to improve your productivity, and you should always keep this in mind! Anything else should come later. For example, we have clients who request payroll integration in their on-call software. But delaying an order or cancelling an order based on just this one feature is unjustified. Nice to have is not the same as “essential” – and adding too many features just results in “bloatware”. It is a mistake to want your software to do too many things right from the start. Get what is essential, and build from there.

  5. Waiting for something better:  Doctors often keep on waiting for something better to come along. Unless you don’t jump in the water, you aren’t going to learn how to swim. Some of the best run private hospitals have been early adopters of technology. Today they might still be using legacy systems, but they are much better run than non IT friendly setups. It’s true that software will evolve over time, but you cannot wait for perfection. Software is always a work in progress, which gets improved and polished incrementally.

  6. Thinking your staff shares your vision:  Many good doctors buy the perfect software and then find that it does not help them at all. Often they blame the software for being unfriendly or useless. Most doctors fail to understand that their staff is one of the key stake holders in this process. Unless the staff uses the software, it is bound to fail. The software may be the best in the world, but if it is not used properly, it isn’t living up to its potential. Doctors need to be firm and to share their vision for the software with their staff. It is a mistake to assume that software will be easily adopted by support staff, nurses and fellow doctors. Provide lots of training – and if some members refuse to use this, you need to take them to task.

  7. Not nurturing innovation:  The biggest stake holders in this industry are the doctors. It is important for them to nurture innovation. Sometimes it is valuable to take a risk or allow a software company to go that extra mile in providing a feature which will change the process flow of your clinic. Doctors who refuse to try out products which provide extra features or new age ideas because they do not understand its utility are closing the door on innovation. A doctor who asks me to block some modules to save money because he feels he will not use them is basically closing his own mind to the potential of using new processes to improve his practice. Do not buy the module in the beginning, but keep an open mind.

  8. Underestimating the complexity of your needs:  Running a clinic is running a small business. It’s a complex enterprise, and often doctors over-estimate their ability to do a good job. Ideally, you should be focused on taking care of your patients, so your staff can run the clinic. If you find you are spending time on routine administrative tasks, this means you are wasting your time and money. There are only 24 hours is your day – learn to use them sensibly. A good doctor scheduling software program will help you to improve your productivity and that of your staff, if you use it to its fullest extent.  Don’t get stuck buying a cheap program which was designed for a small shop – you will end up being unhappy and dissatisfied.

  9. Delaying a decisions:  The single biggest mistake a doctor makes in buying call scheduling software is when he delays his decisions – whether it is thinking about his needs; talking to the vendor; spelling out his requirement; installing the program ; or getting training for his staff. As a result, the vendor is frustrated; the doctor is confused; the staff is anxious. Start small – but start today!

  10. Not providing enough time for training.  While doctors understand that learning a new medical procedure can take time, unfortunately, they are not willing to invest the same time in training their staff – and themselves – in learning how to use the software properly.  This can cause a lot of frustration and when this happens, many doctors just give up on the idea of using any software at all, because they feel their staff is either too busy or not willing to learn something new.  Give your team the benefit of the doubt, also lead by example.  Show your team how important this change is by being a part of it.

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Topics: call scheduling software, physician software, physician scheduling, on call, on-call software, physician scheduling software, doctor scheduling software, on call schedule, call scheduling

10 Mistakes Doctors Have Made When Buying Physician Scheduling Software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, May 04, 2012 @ 09:51 AM

mistakesChoosing which program to buy to create, maintain and publish your call schedule has never been easy.   Earlier, it was because there were very few programs available.  Today, ironically, it is because there are too many!  Doctors are very confused as to which program they should buy – sometimes, too much choice can be as bad as too little.

Doctors have some special character traits which software producers need to be aware of.

  • To be able to treat a patient and be confident that your decision is right requires tremendous self confidence, which means doctors often have a big ego. Many take the approach that they are always right - even in a field like computer technology.
  • Doctors have a tremendous thirst to learn. Years of med school training allows you to pick up knowledge quickly and most doctors who want to buy software are quite knowledgeable about computers. However, sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous , and often what doctors know about computers and software leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Doctors are pressed for time, and hence their decisions are based on the fact that “anything that does not gel with me is going to hamper me”. Rather than try to improve their workflow with the help of computers, they’d rather stick to their old dysfunctional habits, even if this hampers their efficiency.

Doctors who wish to enhance their practice and provide better care and service to their patients and themselves by using physician scheduling software are on the right track. Unfortunately, they don’t always go about it the right way. 

10 mistakes doctors have made when purchasing call scheduling software.

  1. Wanting too many bells and whistles:  Some doctors want their software to do everything for them. Sometimes putting too many things in your software tends to delay its deployment and make it too complicated to use. Often, some doctors will end up not buying any program at all, because it does not have everything which they want – which means they deprive themselves of a great opportunity of improving their efficiency in 80% of their practice.  For example, in EMR software some doctors want the entire drug database of 15000 drugs in their software.  Now you know you will never use even 1/100th of these. There are enough online resources to give you these details when you do require this esoteric information. Why load this redundant data in your software and make it slow by cramming it with stuff you will never use? It’s much more sensible to have a small efficient intelligent drug database which you can grow over time. Stick to the basics - your aim is to improve your practice - not to solve the world healthcare crises.

  2. Trying to save a penny:  It’s a simple fact of life that investment reaps rich rewards. Why haggle over a few dollars and try to find the cheapest option?  Negotiating is great, but choosing quality, support and peace of mind is far more important than trying a save a few bucks. It’s easy to get a local company to make a simple Excel spreadsheet to maintain your call schedule. However, in the long run it makes more sense to invest a little more in good software – preferably from a company which is completely focused on the healthcare physician scheduling space. Medical practice is a complex domain, and a software engineer who doesn’t spend time understanding this cannot make a good product. This is why the early successful packages were created by doctors because they did have the right idea. However, they did not have the savvy to remain up-to-date with the latest technology.  Every doctor I know earns enough to invest in a good package which will enhance his practice. Choose your vendor carefully – after all, you want them to be your partners for life and for this, they need to make enough profit.

  3. Thinking someone else understand your business:  A lot of doctors tend to put too much trust in what their software vendor is doing for them. They feel he is the expert, and knows what he is doing. If a custom built package is being made, unless you provide the vendor with adequate knowledge on your processes, templates, wants and need, the program will never do what you want it to. Remember the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out”.  I know doctors who just give a brief outline of what they want and leave it at that. Now the vendor is left scratching his head because he does not really understand what is required of him. He muddles through – but what he produces is not what the doctor wanted, which means a lot of time, money and energy are wasted – and the cycle needs to be repeated again. If you want a custom built solution, you need to be very closely involved. You cannot delegate this. You need to provide all the information required personally. More importantly, you need to review and ask for updates from time to time. Often, the project gets needlessly delayed because the doctor realizes that this was not what he wanted only after the complete package is delivered to him.  Do you really have time for this?  If you are a full time physician, probably not.
View Mistakes #4 through #10

Topics: software for scheduling physicians, physician software, scheduling software, physician scheduling, on call, on-call software, physician scheduling software, adopting on-call software, on call scheduler

Everyone's a winner in a paid trial of call scheduling software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

winnerWould you purchase a car without test driving it? Would you buy a pair of pants without trying them on? We follow the rule of "try before you buy" every day without even thinking about it. Of course, we should follow that same sound principal when we're purchasing an important business tool such as physician scheduling software.

Try before you buy, that seems to be a common theme now days.  I hear it suggested in everything from living together before you are married to purchasing physician scheduling software.  Why, because most people learn some very valuable "stuff" when they try something.

Here are some valuable reasons to try before you buy:

  1. Get a real look under the engine.  You will probably learn something new when you get "full access" to software.  Most product demos hide some of the real gems until after you become a customer.  A trial is a good way to see what's under the hood.
  2. Test results versus your results.  It’s an old marketing trick to display some amazing results or claims on a website or during a demo.  Where the rubber meets the road is when you put your data into a system and see what the results are.  Now will it still meet your needs?
  3. Tests drive the training and service department.  Did you ever notice how nice everyone is when you are buying something?  You tend to see true colors shine through after some of the "newness" has worn off.  If the team is still nice and helpful after 90 days you have probably picked a winner.  Most people can't fake it that long.
  4. Find the hidden gems.  Many times after you use something new you will find a few hidden benefits that you never realized you needed.  These are really fun because they were unexpected.  Some software customers tell us that the gems can sometimes outweigh the original headline features, meaning that they find savings and benefits in different ways.
  5. Limit your risk.  No one wants to look foolish in front of their professional partners.  As I have learned (the hard way) it makes sense when trying something new to limit your risk.  Most of the time when purchasing something like call scheduling software the largest risk is the term: of the agreement.  With a trial you can be sure that everything is a good fit before you make a commitment.

Is a paid trial of call scheduling software ever a waste?  In my opinion, no.  Everyone’s a winner.  You will learn some very valuable lessons and in the end you should know more than when you began.  Sounds like a win to me.


 

 

Topics: call scheduling software, physician scheduling, on call, on-call software, physician scheduling software, call scheduling

Purchasing on-call software: advise from the trenches

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Apr 06, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

focusWhere should the focus be?

Here are the top 6 things that you should focus on when comparing on-call software.

1.  Almost everyone that I work with gets caught up in "how the software works" especially when you are talking about rules.  This is an area of endless analysis paralysis.  Why?  Because you have no idea what the results of scheduling software will be until you enter your data into the system and try to create a schedule.  Period.  Although we have a large amount of Cardiology groups, there are some that we are not a good fit for.  Why?  Because, when the customer (and our trainer) evaluated the first few schedules, the customer was not satisfied with the results.  Let me be clear, THIS DOES NOT MATTER. 

2.  Do not focus on features, instead focus on results.  Know what your desired results are and drive towards them.  Sit down with your stakeholders and have a realistic brainstorming meeting about what you are trying to accomplish.  Use a whiteboard to write them all down.  When you are finished, use the old SWAT consulting method, colored dots.  Give each person a few dots and have them pick their top 3 and place their dots next to them.  When you are finished  you should have a list of your top 3 needs. 

3.  Be realistic regarding your needs.  The top three areas where people are unrealistic when it comes to call scheduling software are (a) how many rules we can have that limit or exclude, and (b) how long to run the schedule to achieve fair tallies.  (c) how many people can be off at one time.  Our trainers hear this over and over and over.  Without sounding like a smart-aleck you need to understand simple math.  The smaller the number of providers that you have, the fewer rules that you can have if you want to have someone available.  The same is true regarding vacations.  It is very similar when it comes to fair tallies, the number of providers, the number of jobs and the number of days that you are scheduling all have to "play nice" or you will not achieve fairness.  

4.  Try before you buy.  If you agree with my first item, all of the individual features of the software are not relevant; you will agree that the results are.  If that is true, this is where most of your time should be spent, trying out the software.  I personally think a trial should be between 60-120 days.  This will give your group enough time to set-up, configure, create, publish, modify, evaluate and make a decision.  Oh and by the way,  there is a cost to try out good software.  Just like your business, a software company has to pay its trainers, sales people and usually has to pay to develop the software before they can get their first client.  What I mean by this is that they are running a business, they are professionals, and professionals get paid for their work. 

5.  How much risk are you willing to assume if this project is a bomb?  Considering the large amount of uncertainty when it comes to the results of scheduling software, and considering that the results are subjective, I would highly recommend limiting your risk as much as you can.  How do you limit your risk?  Well in the case of buying software, find a vendor who uses a monthly, pay-as-you-go model.  For many of our new clients who begin using our software their biggest financial risk is only one month of service.  You can't get any less risk than that. 

6.  The best businesses are the ones with the best people.  Make sure that when you are selecting your new call scheduling software partner that you choose one with great training and support.  I promise you that this will make all of the difference in the world.  Most of you know the old saying, "there's more than one way to skin a cat", the same is true with software, there are several ways to achieve your desired results.  Your biggest advocate will be the trainer.

To read the complete article "Where should the focus be" you can download our whitepaper on our website.

Topics: software for scheduling physicians, scheduling software, on call, physician scheduling software, call scheduling

9 Mistakes Doctors Make When Choosing Physician Software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Mar 02, 2012 @ 02:38 PM

mistakeChoosing which call scheduling program to buy has never been easy. Earlier, it was because there were very few programs available. Today, ironically, it is because there are too many!  Doctors are very confused as to which program they should buy – sometimes, too much choice can be as bad as too little!

Physicians who wish to enhance their practice and provide better care and service to their patients by using technology are on the right track. Unfortunately, they don’t always go about it the right way.  Some of the important mistakes doctors make are highlighted below.

1. Wanting too many bells and whistles:

Some doctors want their call scheduling software to do everything for them - even pay their taxes (Just joking! ). Sometimes putting too many things in your software tends to delay its deployment and make it too complicated to use. Often, some doctors will end up not buying any program at all, because it does not have everything which they want – which means they deprive themselves of a great opportunity of improving their efficiency in 80% of their practice.  That’s what we recommend sticking to the basics - your aim is to improve your practice - not to solve the world healthcare crises.

2. Trying to save a penny:

It’s a simple fact of life that investment reaps rich rewards. Why haggle over a few dollars and try to find the cheapest option?  Negotiating is great, but choosing quality, support and peace of mind is far more important than trying a save a few bucks. It’s easy to get a local company to make a simple, unsupported database for you to manage your patient’s addresses. However, in the long run it makes more sense to invest a little more in good software – preferably from a company which is completely focused on the healthcare space. Medical practice is a complex domain, and an software engineer who doesn’t spend time understanding this cannot make a good product. This is why the early successful packages were created by doctors because they did have the right idea. However, they did not have the savvy to remain up-to-date with the latest technology. Please stop acting like a miser in choosing a package. Every doctor I know earns enough to invest in a good package which will enhance his practice. Choose your vendor carefully – after all, you want them to be your partners for life, and for this, they need to make enough profit?

3. Losing sight of the basics – KISS :

Your primary aim is to improve your productivity, and you should always keep this in mind! Anything else should come later. For example, we have clients who request Accounts integration in their software. But delaying an order or cancelling an order based on just this one feature is unjustified. Nice to have is not the same as “essential” – and adding too many features just results in “bloat ware”. It is a mistake to want your software to do too many things right from the start. Get what is essential, and build from there.

4. Waiting for something better:

Doctors often keep on waiting for something better to come along. Unless you don’t jump in the water, you aren’t going to learn how to swim! Some of the best run private clinics have been early adopters of technology. Today they might still be using legacy systems, but they are much better run than non IT friendly setups. It’s true that software will evolve over time, but you cannot wait for perfection. It is a mistake to wait when you can always upgrade if you want to later on!

5. Thinking your staff shares your vision:

Many good doctors buy the perfect software and then find that it does not help them manage their physician schedule at all. Often they blame the software for being unfriendly or useless. Most doctors fail to understand that their staff is one of the key stake holders in this process. Unless the staff uses the software, it is bound to fail. The software may be the best in the world, but if it is not used properly, it isn’t living up-to its potential. Doctors need to be firm and to share their vision for the software with their staff. It is a mistake to assume that software will be easily adopted by support staff, nurses and fellow doctors. Provide lots of training – and if some members refuse to use this, you need to take them to task.

6. Not nurturing innovation:

The biggest stake holders in this industry are the doctors. It is important for them to nurture innovation. Sometimes it is valuable to take a risk or allow a software company to go that extra mile in providing a feature which will change the process flow of your clinic. Doctors who refuse to try out products which provide extra features or new age ideas because they do not understand its utility are closing the door on innovation. A doctor who asks me to block some modules to save money because he feels he will not use them is basically closing his own mind to the potential of using new processes to improve his practice. Do not buy the module in the beginning, but keep an open mind.  Even when doctors do not ask for the SMS or Email Plug-in, we still leave it on the User Interface, because just seeing that button there will make them wish it was active when they want to send out a report or reading instantly. Once they see the value, they can always buy the module later on.

7. Underestimating the complexity of your needs:

Running a clinic is like running a small business. It’s a complex enterprise, and often doctors over estimate their ability to do a good job. Ideally, you should be focused on taking care of your patients, so your staff can run the clinic. If you find you are spending time on routine administrative tasks, this means you are wasting your time and money. There are only 24 hours is your day – learn to use them sensibly. A good scheduling software program will help you to improve your productivity and that of your staff, if you use it to its fullest extent. Don’t get stuck using the "free" program which was designed for a small shop – you will end up being unhappy and dissatisfied.

8. Delaying a decision:

The single biggest mistake a doctor makes in buying call scheduling software is when he delays his decisions – whether it is thinking about his needs; talking to the vendor; spelling out his requirement; installing the program ; or getting training for his staff. As a result, the vendor is frustrated; the doctor is confused; the staff is anxious; and patients continue to remain unhappy. Start small – but start today!

9. Not providing enough time for training:

While doctors understand that learning a new medical procedure can take time, unfortunately, they are not willing to invest the same time in training their staff – and themselves – in learning how to use the software properly.  This can cause a lot of frustration and when this happens, many doctors just give up on the idea of using any software at all, because they feel their staff is too stupid.

By avoiding these 9 mistakes that doctors make when choosing physician software you will save yourself, your practice and patients a lot of time and money.


Topics: software for scheduling physicians, physician software, physician scheduling, on-call software, physician scheduling software

3 Cost Effective Steps to a Modern On Call Schedule

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 @ 03:21 PM

old school new schoolHow much time do you currently spend creating, maintaining and publishing your physician oncall schedule?  What tools do you use to assist you?  If you are still creating the schedule by hand and then entering it into Excel or Outlook so that it is accessible to your Doctors online, you might be a good candidate to modernize your process.

The reasons for modernization are pretty simple to understand, the main features that most new users love are:

  1. The ability to program rules into the system
  2. A scheduling engine that will assist you in placing people in jobs
  3. Automatic tallies to prove fairness
  4. Easy way for providers to request and document time off 
  5. Simple way to view the on-call information online

If your ready to take the next step and look at the "new way" here are a few tips that will assist you so that you do not waste your time.

1.  Access your requirements.  What are the top 3-5 things that you expect the software to assist you with.  Put them into a priority list.  Remember that software will not solve world hunger or all of your scheduling needs, make sure you know what is most important for you to get the most value.

2.  Evaluate solutions.  Go to www.google.com and search for call scheduling software or physician scheduling software. Check out a few of the top search results companies and see what they have to offer.  Use the top 3-5 requirements that you discovered above and make sure the software has those features.  Check out a demo.  Look at the references page to see what their current customers think of the product.  The best piece of advice I can give you for this step is to make a decision.  Updating a software system in an office should be a fairly simple decision.  Just make sure that you have an out if it turns out not to be the right choice. 

3.  90-day-trial.  I am a big advocate of trying before buying.  Keep in mind that call scheduling software requires set-up and data entry to use the system, but it is worth the effort for a fair evaluation.  As long as you have a full feature trial I would also suggest finding a paid trial.  With a paid trial you will most likely have free training and support.  These are critical services as a software newbie.  I would pick a trial over a money back guarantee any day, why?  Because in a “money back guarantee” you’re not the one who decides if you get your money back, the person that has your money is.  Don't pay for services in advance and take that risk.  All SaaS call scheduling software providers offer monthly, pay-as-you-go options.

Modernizing your on-call scheduling process with software is an easy investment that will become more valuable each time you use it.

 


Topics: call scheduling software, oncall, physician scheduling, physician scheduling software, doctor scheduling software, adopting on-call software, on call schedule

Who should manage on-call in the hospital medical or admin?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Thu, Jan 05, 2012 @ 03:43 PM

choiceWho should manage on-call in the hospital?  That’s a great question.  In a hospital on-call has many sides.  There is the creation of the individual specialty clinic call schedules, the creation and maintenance of the daily on-call roster, maintaining providers contact numbers and maintaining provider protocol information.

The purpose of on-call in the hospital first and foremost is to serve the emergency department physicians who need specialists to assist them in the admittance and treatment of presenting patients.  This is done via a daily on-call roster that is used to determine which physician is responsible by law to respond and help.  Secondarily it is used by many others within the organization, physicians, nurses, and administration to support patient care.

Although each hospital is very different, I have seen on-call management over and over in the following areas; Medical Staff Office, Emergency Department, Information Systems, Telecommunications and Nursing Support.  Med Staff, nursing support and the ED are all medical units.  IS and Telecom are administrative units.  They both have a different view point.

Who are the players involved in on-call at a hospital?

  1. The hospital Medical Staff Office dictates who and how on-call will be covered for each specialty. 
  2. Specialty clinic staff creates, maintain and publish a call schedule for their group of physicians.
  3. Physicians agree to the oncall assignments they are responsible for covering.
  4. Someone in the hospital receives and manages all of the on-call schedules from specialty clinics.
  5. Someone in the hospital creates a daily on-call roster.
  6. Someone in the hospital distributes the daily on-call roster throughout the organization.
  7. Someone in the hospital makes changes to the daily call roster as they come up, both day and night.
  8. The Emergency Department uses the daily call roster to determine which physician to call.
  9. The hospital operator often pages the requested doctor.
  10. The patient who is sitting in a bed waiting for all of this to happen so that they can be seen and admitted or discharged.

We have found that organizations may have better results if on-call is managed in the Medical Staff Office.  Here's why. 

  1. The Vice President of Medical Affairs has clout and a title that can get things done in an organization.  When they mandate that something is done a certain way, it is usually done that way.  For example, standing orders or credentialing.  Other physicians respect this person and will comply with their requests.
  2. The Medical Staff Office already deals with the physicians on a daily basis.
  3. If there is a issue with a specialty clinic not complying, the Medical Staff Office can deal with it from a physician management point of view.
  4. Policy and procedure will be created with the best interest of the patient in mind.  No politics or job protection going on.

When on-call is managed properly every player listed above is considered when making decisions regarding on-call.  On-call information is readily accessible by all the players listed above, and to the patient the process is seamless and they think that the specialist was already in the hospital when they presented to the ED.  It just works. 

When on-call is not managed properly, you can and will have a host of problems.  Be sure to check out my next Blog Post when I will highlight what those problems look like and provide some proposed solutions.

To answer my above question, I think it is better to manage on-call in a medical department; I have seen better results (regarding compliance and data accuracy) and faster implementation of on-call management. 

Remember, the right provider in the right place at the right time does not happen by accident.


Topics: daily call roster, medical staff office, call schedule management, physician scheduling software, on call schedule, call scheduling

Call Scheduling Software: Everyone has an expectation

Posted by Justin Wampach on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 @ 10:14 AM

expectationsvsrealityAlthough I have been advised not to editorialize in my blog (duly noted) I thought that it might be useful to have a brief chat about expectations.  Prospects, customers and vendors all have different expectations about how things will work regarding doctor scheduling software. 

Here are a few call scheduling software prospect and customer myths that I can dispel.

  1. I should only have to pay for what I use in the software.
  2. The software should set itself up (including all of the information about my providers).
  3. You don't need any training on how to use call scheduling software.
  4. Software will schedule my providers just like I do with Excel.
  5. I want you to be my partner, but I will not treat you that way.
  6. The software should be able to accommodate that certain things only happen sometimes.
  7. The schedule will display the way I want it.
  8. The schedule will show up in my phone the way I want it.
  9. Software customization (custom programming) should be very easy and inexpensive.
  10. The software should be damn near free.

When you stop and think about it there is no way that a company can program to meet everyone’s needs or wants.  The more you use software the more you become ok with that.  In fact, as soon as we (Software Company) make a decision and choose a direction we know for certain that some will like it, some will love it, and some will hate it and think that we are idiots because we did it that way.  This gets back to a former blog I did about the Parato Principal, better known as the 80/20 rule.  Most software companies create products that meet 80% of the customer’s needs within their specific market.  Perhaps if you never find what you are looking for in software you need to adjust your expectations. 

Similar to prospects and customers having certain expectations of us as a company, we also have certain expectations of you as a prospective customer. 

To be fair, here are a few call scheduling software Vendor myths that I can dispel;

  1. We don’t like it when you tell us that our software sucks.
  2. We don’t like it when you don't do your homework.
  3. Our trainers have no clue how people create, maintain and publish a call schedule.
  4. We don’t like being stood-up for demos and training.
  5. Sometimes "why something works the way it does" is just because it does.
  6. Our trainers have others scheduled after you, so we cannot do it all at once.
  7. We don’t like being called on a Sunday night because you forgot your password and you don’t want to call your scheduler to bother them.
  8. We don’t like it when customers lack of planning become our emergencies.
  9. We don’t like when our software is blamed for your organizations dysfunction.
  10. We don’t like it when you don't pay your bill and we have to call and ask for it.

I think there are a few takeaways from this blog post. 

First, it is important to be realistic and reasonable with your expectations.  Also remember that expectations change and you must communicate your changes if you wish to be satisfied.  And lastly, remember that if you expect your expectations to be meet, others do as well, this should be a two-way street.  You can have everything you want, just not all at once.


Topics: software for scheduling physicians, on-call software, physician scheduling software, doctor scheduling software, adopting on-call software

5 Risks of allowing your Docs to change their own on-call schedule

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Dec 09, 2011 @ 10:16 AM

risk

There are risks that need to be considered if you are going to allow all of your physicians to have the ability to modify the on-call schedule without any oversight.  In my opinion the risks outweigh the benefits.

Risk #1. Fairness.  Most all schedulers create the schedule with fairness in mind.  All providers demand even tallies.  When you allow your providers to modify the schedule fairness needs to be taken into consideration.

Risk #2.  Skills and Privileges.  Does the provider that you are trading with have the proper skills and credentialing to work your assignment? 

Risk #3.  Personal Liability.  What happens if no one is oncall, when there is supposed to be?  Critical patient presents at ED.  ED physician evaluates and proceeds to find the on-call consulting physician.  No physician found.  Patient is transferred to another facility.  Patient takes a dive while in transport.  Patient dies.  EMTALA investigation regarding the transfer.  When the legal team at the hospital steps in and finds out that a doctor took himself off of the call schedule because he was tired after a surgery.   Guess what happens next?

Risk #4.  Too many cooks.  Most doctor scheduling software companies have designed their software for a special user called "scheduler", this user has certain privileges in the software that others do not.  Some would call this a super-user.  Super-users are usually highly trained in the software use.  Super-users have the ability to "screw up the program" because of what they can do.  The larger the number of super-users in any system, the greater likelihood that someone will accidently screw something up.  Real super-users know how to fix their mistakes without having to call tech-support.

Risk #5.  Bizarre results.  If you are using web-based software by nature you can work in collaboration with someone very easily.  At Adjuvant we take advantage of this when we train our Call Scheduler Classic and Lite customers.  Both customer and trainer logs into the same account and they can both see the same results.  If customer changes something, all the trainer has to do is hit the "refresh" button and the new change is updated.  This same principal is true for multiple people to be using the software at the same time, all trying to manually schedule and every time they refresh the screen they are seeing other days scheduled, notes made and so on.  The bizarre results were not "bugs in the system" they were caused by multiple users logged into the same schedule at the same time and both making changes.

There are many more risks associated with allowing all of your providers to have the ability to create and make changes to the on-call schedule. 

Topics: software for scheduling physicians, on-call software, physician scheduling software, on call schedule, call scheduling

5 Disastrous Misconceptions about On-call Software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Thu, Dec 01, 2011 @ 02:48 PM

misconceptionI think it is helpful when everyone is on the same page.  Most of the time when my expectations were not meet in the past was because I made incorrect assumptions.  I thought I might be able to clear-up some misconceptions before you start looking for physician scheduling software.

Misconception #1.  Software should be free or low cost and have all the features.  This misconception comes from some in the software industry who have developed great software for free.  The cost of software comes from client focused development; bug fixing/testing, integration, training and support, and sales and marketing.  Although few customers want to pay for sales and marketing expenses, everyone wants support/training and new features along with a product that is free of bugs.  As you know, this takes money.  You should want your vendor partners to make money so that they can continue to offer you good products and great service.  This cannot be done for free (at least for too long)

Misconception #2.  Oncall software will replicate our current paper/Excel process.  If you use Excel to create your doctors call schedule, I'm sure that you have noticed that you can put anything in any "cell" that you want.  You can break your rules and preferences; you can create a schedule one day-at-a time.  Although many things are possible, it does not always mean that you should.  Creating a call schedule using call scheduling software is different than with Excel.  Do not try to force your current process into a new system.  Be open to change.  Think about what you want to accomplish and why as opposed to focusing on why the software is doing a certain thing.  Excel is predictable; most on-call software was designed not to be, in order to create a better, schedule.

Misconception #3.  Software will save you time right out of the gate.  Let’s be real here.  Everything takes time to set-up and configure as well as master.  When you have mastered the software, most any software, it will save you time.

Misconception #4.  You don't need any training.  In order to be a ninja master, you need training.  How much training depends on your comfort level with using software in general.  People who do not get proper training on how to use software always blame the software when they cannot accomplish what they want to do.  Non-trained users are usually the first to jump ship.  If you are not committed enough to schedule and attend training, then your problem is probably not significant enough to warrant the purchase.  In other words, if you don't want training, save your money on the software!

Misconception #5.  Our rules and process are probably too complicated for a software system.  This is sometimes accurate.  Some medical groups are very complex.  For example a group of 25 Cardiologists with 50 jobs at 10 locations.  This is pretty complex.  What is important here is to understand that nothing will solve all of your needs.  Nothing is 100 push-button and if it was you probable would not want to pay the fees.  What you should be looking at is a prioritization of what is important (most to least).  Also what is important to your Doctors, sometimes software is not going to save the scheduler time at all, but it will assist in communication of the call information to the providers.   Remember what is important.  If you don't know, you should not be looking.

With the proper expectations of what physician scheduling software can and will do, along with a clear need and established budget range is a great place for any shopper to start.

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Topics: software for scheduling physicians, physician scheduling, on-call software, physician scheduling software, doctor scheduling software, adopting on-call software, on call schedule, call scheduling