Amy's blog about training

Shared-Call between multiple Small Groups

Posted by Amy Engebretson on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 03:18 PM

Sharing On Call responsibility between multiple small groups brings opportunity for less frequent Call duty for everyone.

Small Group scheduling puzzleTypically the physician On Call agreement is reviewed once a year by a "study group" of a few doctors who come up with recommendations for the whole group to decide upon. Part of the review should include how you will split up On Call fairly, especially when you are "maxed out" due to changes such as:

  • Temporary limited availability of a provider
  • A physician is phasing into retirement
  • To prevent burn out due to changing practice size or patient load

One solution is to form a Shared-Call Group in partnership with several other compatible practices so members only have to take On Call weekends every two months or so. It is especially valuable to use on-line Scheduling Software to do this, so you can automate your part of the schedule while “blocking” the portions of the calendar that will be covered by the Other Group, and the Shared-Call results are viewable by all parties in real time.

What are some of the issues involved in generating and publishing a shared On-Call Group schedule, and how can On Call software help you overcome them? Even if shared on-call expectations are in writing, questions may remain, such as:

  • The Other Group is supposed to cover a certain percentage of call. How can I be sure my own group schedule fills our fair share, and check that the Other Group does too? Create a calendar that schedules Group-A and Group-B instead of actual providers. This schedule can have built in rules to reflect the frequency and spread that the Shared-Call Group has agreed upon, but it does not yet specify “Which Provider” is On Call at this point. The Group-A / Group-B schedule tally report and various calendar views can verify the frequency, spread and percent of Call between the Groups.

  • How do I know exactly when My Group is On Call and when the Other Group is covering instead? The yearview and month views supply especially easy-to-understand overall visuals for  Us / Them. The month views can supply a view reflecting “Which of Us” vs the Other Group, or “Which of Us” and “Which of Them” if the Other Group uses Call Scheduler and fills in the Provider they are actually sending. This information is also available to scheduled individual Providers on their smartphones via iCal and the Call Scheduler app.

The answer to the mystery question “Exactly when is My Group on call?” is...
“Let me check the APP on my phone!”

  • The Other Group isn’t using Call Scheduler. Is there a shared, export/import document so I know who they are sending to cover? Sure! Send the Other Group an excel-export copy of the Group-A/ Group-B schedule, so they know when they are to cover. When they send it back filled in, import to populate their spots with their appropriate Providers.

    What if they don’t send a document back? Okay, leave the “Group-B” in place as a place holder for the Other Group, and use Call Scheduler to automate populating your share. The resulting schedule is available for viewing by everyone, but your part is only editable by you.

  • What if I want to have a shared calendar, but I don’t want the Other Group to be able to change anything? The Call Scheduler set up can automatically supply that assurance. You are each working on your own schedule without direct access to the Other Group’s schedule. However, you can have visual reference to the combined schedule as you are working, and a combined “On Call” schedule can be “published” via your Microsite that looks as if it is all one schedule!

  • Advantages to an on-line Shared-Call Group Schedule:
    • A “master view” of Group-A/ Group-B schedule is located in one place.

    • The local ED gets only one view; there are not two differently updated schedules sent.

    • Easily create Sub-views displaying only “Group-A” schedule, or only “Group-B”, or even sub-specialized views coming from more than one schedule (MDs/ PAs, Clinical/Surgical, Satellite only)

    • Eliminate the need for administrative staff to manually enter the Group-A/ Group-B structure with potential mistakes.

    • Be able to automate filling your part of the schedule!

    • Eliminate duplicate coverage or “empty holes”

    • If a Group member loses a provider that impacts the Shared-Call pattern, the “template” for the Shared On Call can be re-figured and re-exported so the Shared-Call can be re-done by the appropriate schedulers.

    • Real-time views so the correct physician is called based on the most current schedule.

    • Assignments automatically feed into smartphones and iCal, so Providers always know is it "Us", is it “ME” or "THEM"

Key Takeaway: Split up On Call responsibility using a Shared-Call Group, and help provide the flexibility Physicians value along with the frequency available in larger practices.