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

Reduce Physician Burnout by Sharing On-Call Duty

Posted by Justin Wampach on Mon, Jul 16, 2018 @ 04:42 PM

sharing linkAlthough CMS does not require small groups of physicians to be on-call for a service every day if it is overly burdensome due to the size of the practice, but the hospital may feel differently.  It is tough for a hospital to only be “open” for a service on certain days when they have physician on-call coverage.  How is EMS or the public supposed to know if you are open to receive patients without calling in each time.  This can cause potential patients and other hospitals from bringing in business to the ED.  For this and many other reasons some small practice groups have elected to share the on-call duties with other practices to lessen the burden on the physicians while maintaining service levels for the local hospital.  A true win/win, when done correctly.

Two groups decide to share call and one group takes this week, the other group takes the next week. Sounds easy enough right?  It might be that simple if you were talking about anyone but physicians.  Shared call when done incorrectly can make things worse for the physicians.  How so?  By getting called incorrectly over and over when they are not on assignment.  After getting 2 or 3 calls in an evening and having to tell an operator that it is not you or your practice, it’s the other group. Then they argue with you telling you that it’s not what the schedule says, you may as well just take the damn call, you have already been interrupted so many times that it may not even matter anymore.

As you can imagine there is a right way and a wrong way to share call.  Here are a few basic, but important things to think about.

  1. Be in the same or surrounding community. Many Medical Staff Offices have policies regarding the maximum time you can take to respond to an on-call request.

  2. Have privileges at the same hospitals. if you can’t admit another doctor’s patient to the facility that your colleague ordinarily uses, but instead must admit to your hospital, nobody’s bound to be happy. And if the patient can’t receive the services he needs at your hospital, you create an opening for a malpractice suit.

  3. Have the same skill set. If you have some choice this makes the most sends for the sake of patient care and risk management.  In rural areas this isn’t always possible. 

  4. Be careful of who you partner with. Never cover with someone who writes meds without seeing the patient, or writes too many narcotic prescriptions.

How many call partners do you need? According to an October 1, 2009 article from Physicians Practice titled Call Sharing for Small-Group Docs, “Five is the golden number for doctors who want a nightly rotation Monday through Friday, with a separate rotation for weekends. Going higher than five means even fewer hours tethered to your phone, but there’s a price to pay. Because you’re entrusted with a larger volume of patients, you could be eaten alive with the medical problems of total strangers.”

Once you have the right people its time to figure out the schedule.  There are two options, the first according to the 2009 article, “In the six-member call group of gastroenterologist Gregory Smith in Athens, Ga., doctors meet every three or four months over dinner to map out their schedule. Even so, doctors invariably need administrative help; not only for creating the calendar but also distributing it to call partners, the answering service, and hospitals — not just once, but every time it changes.”  Many doctors function as call-calendar czar, sometimes rotating the responsibility annually.  Back in 2009 this was the norm, dinner and manual scheduling by one person who clearly drew the short straw.  In 2018 modern practices use on-call scheduling software to create an evenly and fairly distributed on-call schedule where both practices can submit vacation requests and the schedule is created around the doctors time off.  Physician Scheduling Software also makes swaps and communicating the schedule to the hospital a breeze.  Everything is live and on-line, making it one source of on-call truth.  For detailed information on how to create shared call schedule between two small groups check out Amy's latest blog post.

When everything is said and done it also makes sense to memorialize the terms with a shared call agreement that is revisited each year.  Consult with your favorite attorney to have something simple but solid drafted.  Remember an EMTALA citation regarding on-call happens to not only the hospital but also the physician who was on-duty.  The fines can be $50,000 each.  It is very important to get this right. 

Sharing Call with the right people can make sense and help reduce physician burnout, especially in a smaller community.  They key is to make sure that all the aspects are thought through and covered in an agreement.

Call Scheduler can be tailored to your needs, let us explain how! Request Consultation

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

Topics: software for scheduling physicians

Overlooked Cause of Physician Burnout - Creating the Physician Schedule

Posted by Justin Wampach on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 @ 09:51 AM

bat1-18444If you are a lead physician in your practice or a practice administrator, you know that Physician Burnout is a hot topic in 2018.  Recent Studies from Medscape and Reuters continue to show that the problem is not showing any signs of slowing down.

According to “The Happy MD” blog posted by Dike Drummond, MD, “Numerous global studies involving nearly every medical and surgical specialty indicate that approximately 1 in 3 doctors are experiencing physician burnout at any given time, with some studies showing burnout prevalence as high as 69%”.

One of the things that can be done to prevent physician burnout is work-life balance and healthy boundaries between work and non-work life areas.  In many small and medium sized practices, it is still very common to have one of the physicians create, maintain and publish the physician on-call and work schedule.  This is most often created at home, nights and weekends, without any tools, such as automated on-call scheduling software.  We estimate that the physician scheduling process will take  approximately 30-50 hours per year creating, making changes to, and communicating for a group of 10-15 physicians.

While many of these physician schedulers are more senior members of the practice, and some even claim to like doing it, the large majority are not doing it for fun or the challenge.  They are doing it because either it won’t get done on time of they don’t do it, it won’t be done fairly, or it won’t be accurate.  All three of these items are important to the partners in the practice.

Spending 30—50 hours of time, that you are not compensated for, on nights and weekends does not promote a healthy work life balance and certainly violates the precious boundaries between work and home.  I am advocating that physician scheduling software tools are provided to make the job easier, less time consuming, and more self-serve for the physicians who do not have to create or maintain the schedule. 

Creating the physician work and on-call schedule is often overlooked and undervalued because the workload is burdened to one person (or a small group) and does not affect everyone as much as it does the physician scheduler.  Sometimes when a doctor wants to pass the baton to someone else there is peer pressure from other doctors to “just suck it up” and “do it by hand like I used to have to do”.  And we also hear that the partners are unwilling to change or could not possibly learn one-more “new thing” making the process more self-serve difficult.  FYI, I think all of that is BS.  I think the real reason is that some people are selfish and don’t care as much about others as they should.  If it’s not my problem, who cares about Scheduling Physicians, right.  WRONG.

Physician burnout is real.  The causes can be subtle and can take years to add-up.  Just be sure if you are an Administrator or physician leader that you are not part of the problem, but rather the solution.  

Creating a healthy work-life balance does not include spending 30-50 hours of your nights and weekends creating schedules for your partners.  Give doctors the time and tools necessary to do their job as a “scheduler” and encourage other doctors to use modern tools for things like vacation requests.  This is a small step in reducing the possibility that scheduling doctors is part of the burnout problem.  It doesn’t have to be.

Have questions or need more information? Let's talk. Contact Call Scheduler

Free Image From BlogPiks.com

Hospital Transfers Need Accurate On-Call Information

Posted by Justin Wampach on Thu, Jul 05, 2018 @ 01:47 PM

On Call in the hospitalDo you want your hospital to be considered a regional referral center?  According to an article published in the September 2014 issue of Today’s Hospitalist “Transferring patients from one hospital to another, quickly and easily” has become a top priority for hospital leadership.  Why?  Transfers are a source of new revenue and according to Martin B. Buser, MPH “a way to shore up finances”.

They need to increase market share as quickly and dramatically as possible,” Mr. Buser says. “You want your hospital to be considered a regional referral center, which means giving the thumbs up to transfers.” And you don’t need to be a teaching hospital “to become a successful regional referral hospital,” he adds. “Large community hospitals are intercepting transfers that formerly went to universities because they can give better service and are more responsive.”  According to Mr. Buser, some client hospitals have realized a 15-to-1 return on every dollar invested in a new transfer center. 

There are several things that must be in place for a successful transfer.  One of them being accurate, up-to-date on-call information.  A hospitalist or emergency physician at a referring hospital should be able to quickly and easily find out which regional centers are open for a specific service before initiating the transfer request.

Many regional referral centers struggle to have one source of on-call truth.  In the absence of accurate specialty physician on-call information it can take 3-8 calls to get a patient accepted.  First, you have to find a center that is open for the service you need, then, you have to find a hospitalist or the on-call specialist to accept your transfer.  All of this takes time via phone calls and phone tag.  Time is the enemy of many patients critical enough to require a transfer considering the large volume of patients transferred directly into an ICU.

One simple way to build a single source of on-call truth is with a web-based on-call management system that can automatically aggregate an entire hospitals on-call information into one simple to use system.   Access to this system can then be given to referring hospitals who you wish to establish a better transfer relation with.  An on-call management system like this can send a clear message that we are open for business and we want to make the process of transferring appropriate patients from your facility to ours as easy as possible.

We have heard several times that a hospital will call another hospital to see if they are open for that service (for example Neurology) and after hearing “no” so many times, they stop calling.  According to Roy I. Sittig, MD, medical director of the hospitalist program and associate chief of medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Conn. The bigger problem, as he sees it, is that “the process to get someone in can be a labyrinth that is not user-friendly to referring providers.” Too often, there is no one number to call to get a transfer started. Then there’s confusion about whether to call an admitting hospitalist or a specialist.

Clearly there are many facets to building and running a successful transfer center, one of them being up-to-date and accurate on-call information.  This is one of the simplest problems to solve using a combination of process and technology. 

Have questions or need more information? Let's talk. Contact Call Scheduler

Photo courtesy of Martha Dominguez at @unsplash.com

Does Anyone Care How Much Time You Spend on the On-Call Schedule?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Tue, Jul 03, 2018 @ 08:28 AM

I was just reading a great blog post from a company that schedules restaurant employees and it was talking about an employee of the company displaying at a trade show and trying to talk to attendees as they walk by the booth.

The vendor said, “Hi, would you be interested in knowing more about online employee scheduling and forecasting?”  The man hesitated.  A-HA!  A browser! He turned and said, “What, you mean a tool to do the schedule on the computer?”  I replied, “Yes, absolutely, and a great deal more.”  He then said something I have since heard several times, but as this was the first time I’d heard it, it surprised the heck out of me.  He said, “I pay my manager a salary and I don’t care how long it takes them or how hard it is. That’s why they’re salaried.” 

This made me think of how many times I hear from the person creating the on-call schedule that no-one seems to understand or care how difficult it is or how long it takes. 

How Long Does it Take to Build an On-Call Schedule?

Over the past several years I have commented many times about trying to understand and articulate the value of your time when creating, maintaining, and publishing the call schedule.  If your partners or your boss is not aware how much time and energy is being spent, chances are it will never change.  I would go as far as to say that if you are being asked to do this task at night or on the weekends of your own time, and you are not an owner or stakeholder, you might want to strongly consider politely giving the project back.

Managing Overtime in Your Clinic or Practice 

GettyImages-947192610

It’s a common assumption that salaried workers can be asked to work overtime without being compensated extra. That assumption is not always true.

It’s not whether you’re salaried but whether you meet the test for exempt status as defined by federal and state laws. An employee that is exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act is not entitled to overtime. An employee that is non-exempt from FLSA is entitled to overtime. The official stance is:

A salaried employee must be paid overtime unless they meet the test for exempt status as defined by federal and state laws or unless they are specifically exempted from overtime by the provisions of one of the Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders regulating wages, hours, and working conditions.

If you are salaried and are non-exempt, then you can calculate your overtime pay like this:

  1. Multiply the monthly remuneration by 12 (months) to get the annual salary.
  2. Divide the annual salary by 52 (weeks) to get the weekly salary.
  3. Divide the weekly salary by the number of legal maximum regular hours (40) to get the regular hourly rate.

As mentioned above it is somewhat different if you are an owner or stakeholder in the business. Although if you have a true partnership (an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests) you should not allow any unfair treatment between partners. This causes friction in the relationship and could eventually cause a disillusion in the partner agreement.

One easy way to accomplish this is to answer the following questions (at least annually):

  1. What are your duties in the clinic outside of patient care?
    • Do I still like doing it?
    • How much time does it take?
    • How much does it cost?
    • Is this a good use of my time?
    • Are there any tools (like software) that can assist me?
  2. What are your partner’s duties in the clinic outside of patient care?
    • Do they still like doing it?
    • How much time does it take them?
    • How much does it cost them?
    • Is this a good use of their time?
    • Are there any tools (like software) that can assist them?
  3. Are these duties still a good fit for you and your partners?

Key Takeaway:  By reviewing and answering these questions you are showing your business savvy and also showing your partners that you care.

 

See Call Scheduler in action and experience the time and headache you'll save. Request Live Demo

Topics: adopting on-call software

Hospital On-Call Management: Building One-Source of Truth

Posted by Justin Wampach on Mon, Jun 25, 2018 @ 12:25 PM

tick-true-represents-in-truth-and-accurate-100288889Where do you go within your hospital to find out who is on-call for Cardiology or Neuro-Surg?  Do you trust the information to be current and accurate or do you have to call and verify?  How do you know if there has been a recent change? 

Accurate, up-to-date on-call information is paramount in running an efficient, modern Emergency Department and Transfer Center.  I hear this over and over.  That was the goal of a medium sized hospital CIO on a call last week, “we need to build one source of truth” for this on-call information.  I was intrigued by his choice of words “one source of truth”.  When asked to clarify, he told us that the amount of schedule changes is “chaotic” and often times are not documented correctly and re-distributed throughout the organization.  What has happened in this specific organization is that the current system is seen as “broken” due to it’s inaccuracy. 

Some of you reading this might be thinking, who cares?  So, what if it takes a few extra minutes to find the correct on-call physician?  Those are fair questions, let me dive a little deeper into the pain that on-call can cause within a busy hospital.

  1. Wrong physician getting called when not on service. Each time this happens, depending on the individual physician, this call can cause frustration and stress to the doctor.  This is often referred to as physician dissatisfaction.  I think we can all agree that most of the doctors that we interact with are extremely busy and a lot is expected of them not only in the clinic but also in the hospital.  The last thing a busy person wants on their day-off or in their downtime is someone calling for a consult when they are not on service.  Often, calling the wrong physician when they are not on-call will be brought up and looked into by the Vice President of Medical Affairs.  I have heard of physicians leaving practices over the repeated practice of calling the wrong person.
  2. Employee satisfaction and turn over. This is the other side to the wrong doctor getting called, this is the person calling the wrong doctor and often being verbally reprimanded on the phone for the error.  Often, we see a telecom person, or someone in the ED looking at outdated inaccurate information.  Rarely is the person calling the wrong doctor the person who made the mistake.  The mistake is traced back to an outdated paper system that does not account for the large number of changes in coverage that we see as common today.

  3. Extended wait times, delay in patient care while trying to locate the correct physician. This area is one that seems the most obvious to me.  In 2014 the CDC reported that the average ED wait time was about 30 minutes, and 90 minutes waiting for treatment.  Ask any mother of a young sick child what the experience is like in the waiting room of your favorite hospital, it feels A LOT longer.  There should never be a delay in care due to outdated paper on-call information, especially not when there is robotic surgery going on in the basement. 

  4. Decrease in transfers from other facilities. How easy or hard is it to make a transfer into your hospital ED?  Do others have to call you to see if you even have coverage of that service?  Why is it that many ED’s have wait times posted on their website, but they make other hospitals call them to see if they have an on-call Neuro Surgeon available for a case.  Remember that transfers are a source of revenue for your hospital.  Make them as easy as possible for other hospitals to work with your hospital.

  5. EMTALA. It is a requirement of participation in the Medicare program to maintain a list of physicians who are on call for duty after the initial exam to provide treatment necessary to stabilize an individual within an emergency medical center.  Failure to do so can produce fines of $50,000 for both the hospital and the physician.

Where do people in your organization go for one source of on-call information truth?  Sophisticated, cost effective on-call management solutions exist that can quickly and easily transform your hospital.

 

Call Scheduler can be tailored to your needs, let us explain how! Request Consultation

 

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Free On-Call Scheduling Software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 @ 09:36 AM

Medical Groups should be providing valuable tools for physicians to use, for free, to create maintain and communicate their on-call and work schedules.  Physicians should have access to free tools to use to do their job. Free to the physicians, not free to the medical group. In some professions, it is acceptable to expect the resource to provide his/her own tools to be able to complete the job. Think the building industry or mechanics.

Is Free Scheduling Software Too Good to be True? 

Free On-Call Scheduling Software

If I could go back in time and be sitting in some of the early meetings at the large pharmaceutical companies when they had the brain-child idea of buying their way into the physician’s office using free drug samples, I would definitely have had something to say. This model has plagued the non-pharmaceutical medical industry for more than 40 plus years as medical offices have an expectation of being able to try something for nothing before they buy it or even consider it.

In 2010, Adjuvant, the maker of Call Scheduler spent money to customize a way for doctors to come to our website and request a free-30-day-trial of our Call Scheduler Lite product. We thought this would work because many doctors are not available to speak with our sales team during the day, they're too busy seeing patients. We thought it would be great to give them a self-serve method that they could do when it was convenient for them. The free trial was for our product to help them create, maintain, and publish a call schedule for their partners. In addition to our investment to automate the set-up process, we also needed to create many do-it-yourself videos so that the doctors would know how to set-up the system and be able it use it. 

We had a large number of doctors sign-up for the free trial.  Out of the total group of doctors that signed-up for the service, the large majority of them never completed the set-up part where you enter the doctors' names. Not one of the free trials turned into a sale. Why? I’m not sure.  I have some thoughts though.

  1. No money was invested (easy come easy go).
  2. Realized there was work involved, perhaps the volume seemed overwhelming.
  3. Realized that they did not have all of the necessary information to set-up the system.
  4. They thought that our set-up interface sucked and therefore moved on.
  5. They really didn’t have a problem.

On-Call Scheduling Make Better Tools

Many of the physicians who look at our Call Scheduler demos and or that call into the office are still creating the work and on-call schedule for their partners on their own time, and by hand without any tools other than perhaps Excel. That is so important I am going to say it again, most of the Physicians that I speak with (several hundred each year) still have to create the call and work schedule for all the partners on their own time, and without any tools. This averages about 40 hours per year, of nights and weekends.

In many industries outside of medicine, this concept would have ended 20 years ago.

For example in the technology/software industry if you don’t provide time and tools for your most valuable employees, or if you expect them to perform duties that are time-consuming, and difficult, and on top of it, have people gripe about the results, they would pack up and go somewhere else. Technology people are so valuable and in such demand they will simply leave. I have learned over the past 10+ years that most physicians are very mild mannered people. They are not looking to rock the boat, nor are they looking to make a big deal out of something that others find trivial. The physicians who fit this profile are typically the ones who get talked into doing the on-call schedule for their partners.

I think that a few items are at play when we talk about doing work for free without the proper tools.  First, medical groups are very cost conscious organizations about certain things.  Like all good businesses it is important to make investments in the places that show a financial return.  For example, an MRI machine has a large cost, but also has a large return.  The individual physicians are expensive to employ, but also have a large return on investment.  Tools and services are often seen as a burden, and are considered optional.  The second item at play is that many groups have certain doctors doing scut work, like the on-call schedule, because they will do it and not push back. 

The Ultimate Buy-In

Or if they do push back, they can be easily bullied into taking on the added responsibility, for free, without any tools.  In my opinion, both of these things are pretty sad. I say that because it is a very black and white way of looking at the world, and unfortunately there are many shades of gray. For example, when you’re looking at a return on investment sometimes it can be easy to forget about the “soft” benefits and only look at the “hard” benefits. An example of a soft benefit would be physician satisfaction or work/life balance. Everyone wants to see a hard dollar return on everything that is not considered essential to whoever makes the decisions.

Funny story, a new service was being offered in my community, Oopie Poopie Scoopy service. It was a guy who came around each week to clean up dog waste.  At first I thought who in the world would ever use this or spend money on something like this. Until I became a pet owner of a 75lb Husky /German Sheppard mix. Let me tell you, it was the best $40 per month that I had ever spent. Once I had the crappy job (pun intended) and my mind changed, quickly! 

Sometimes it is important to look at things from someone else’s perspective. I hear physicians tell me all of the time “my partners won’t pay for software, they don’t think we need it and it will not benefit everyone, only me, the person who creates the schedule”.  Obviously, they are wrong, on-call scheduling software benefits all of the physicians, the staff, and even patients in the end. Each person will benefit in a different way, some will be greater than others, but everyone still benefits.   

 

I have said it before and I will say it again, if you are a physician in a practice that is doing the call schedule for free, on your own time, without any tools, STOP.  Politely go back to your partners or practice administrator and say, no thank you. The same way you would if they asked you to clean the toilets without rubber gloves. I am willing to bet my last pair of clean socks that either you or the next person will get at the very least some software to help them out.  

See Call Scheduler in action and experience the time and headache you'll save. Request Live Demo

  

Topics: scheduling software, on call schedule, free scheduling software

The On Call Schedule Calendar is More Than a Calendar

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Jun 08, 2018 @ 07:41 AM

When I began my career at Adjuvant, I needed to find my passion for the industry. How the hell do you find passion for creating, maintaining, and publishing call schedules? I will be honest, it took me awhile.

Why an On Call Schedule Calendar Company Emerged

More Than Just a Schedule

I was constantly asking myself the question, why on-call, why physician scheduling, why work with doctors in the first place? That is a good question, most of them are almost impossible to get ahold of, very close with their money, and are not the quickest decision makers.

Still looking for passion, I first centered around creating good software, after all, we are a software company, right? I also developed a passion for running a good business, after all, I am a businessman, right?

And then I started talking to not only current customers of ours but more importantly new prospects who were sharing stories about why they were calling us.

The Importance of Managing a Doctor On Call Schedule

Would you believe me if I told you that the physician on-call schedule is one of the most important schedules with the clinic and the hospital? Here's why;

  1. How can you schedule staff and patients until you know where the Doctor is or is not?
  2. Why would you need support services like x-ray and lab if there is not a Doctor available to see patients?
  3. Who is needed most in the Emergency Department at every hospital in the US?
  4. Who is needed the most during a complicated delivery or procedure?

Inside of every square in an on-call calendar, there is a person's name. That name represents a trained medical doctor who will drop everything and come and help you when they are called.  Some of them will be so busy with calls that they will sleep at the hospital until they are relieved. This is the person who is going to help my family member when they show up at 3:00 am in the morning at my local hospital with chest pains or after a car accident.

On-call doctors and professionals are unsung heroes and deserve to be treated that way. This is where I found my passion. I realized that our company doesn't just make software or try to convince doctors to become more efficient with their time, our software makes sure that when you need them the most, the doctor is there, no matter what day or time.  We help professionals save lives. 

On Call Calendar is More Than Just a Calendar

I am certain that there have been instances, especially with our OB/Gyn clients when the information in our system allowed for a process to be expedited. This is when the difference between 1 and 5 minutes could be the difference between life and death. We helped!

The on-call schedule is more than just a calendar, it is some of the most valuable and useful information that a hospital and clinic have. If you are the person that creates, maintains, and publishes doctors' call schedules, please remember how important your job is.

If you are a physician who is taking call assignments, please know that we take our job and yours very seriously and will continue to do whatever we can to make sure that you are in the right place at the right time. Oh, and by the way, thank you. 

I can't say that enough. 

Call Scheduler can save you time, money, and scheduling headaches. See how we  did this for 7 Day Clinic of ND. Download Case Study

 

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

How Much Does On-Call Cost your Hospital Today?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Wed, May 23, 2018 @ 10:54 AM

One of the most important steps in getting your new on-call management system project approved and budgeted by hospital administration is to be sure you have a credible cost-benefit analysis that you can use to show why the benefits of your project outweigh the costs and by how much. Without a strong analytical document, it is going to be difficult to convince anyone that you have done your homework.  

Current Costs & A Poor Experience 

How Much Does On-Call Cost your Hospital Today?

What most people tend to forget when creating cost/benefit documents is what it’s costing them today to achieve bad results. This may sound minor, but in fact, may be one of the most important sections of this document. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations do not fully recognize how much money they are currently spending to be unhappy.

This number is imperative so that you have something to compare your investment number to. For example, if on-call costs for your hospital $25,000 per year and you are getting bad results, then wouldn’t it be great if you could spend $15,000 annually and get better results that everyone is happy with? The answer is yes.

But imagine how it would look if you forgot to mention today's cost and instead you just asked to spend $15,000 to make the system better. People need to have something to compare numbers to. This isn't a new topic, I have written about cost justification in the past.

A Cost-Benefit Analysis Outline:

  • Executive Summary

    • One paragraph description of the overview of the project

    • Recommendation (based on the cost-benefit analysis presented below the following project is recommended)

    • Supporting reasons

    • Financial costs outweigh the returns

    • Tangible versus intangible benefits

  • General Information

  • Purpose  

The purpose of the cost benefit analysis is to determine whether implementing a new on-call management system is the best option for your organization to pursue at this time:

  • Overview: what problem is trying to be solved and by whom
  • Description of the problem
  • Overview of the challenges associated with the problem
  • What you are spending today
  • Total costs today to get results you are not happy with
  • Description of Alternatives Considered

  • Cost of a New On-Call Management System

    • Benefits: cost reductions, recurring benefit, hard and soft cost considerations
  • Summary

The outline above should give you a good start at making your case to management. Don’t get too worried if it takes a few attempts. Remember for every project they approve, there are probably five - 10 that are rejected. It’s all about priorities and need.

What You Will Learn From Preparing a Cost-Benefit Analysis:

  1. Clear understanding of the problem
  2. Picture of the market and how others have solved similar problems
  3. Research regarding what it currently costs today to get bad results
  4. Alternative ways to solve the problem
  5. How to build your case

Call Scheduler can be tailored to your needs, let us explain how! Request Consultation

 

Topics: call scheduling software, call scheduling

How to Convince Your Partners to Try New Call Scheduling Software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Mon, May 14, 2018 @ 08:29 AM

A New Day

When was the last time you tried something new? What convinced you to try it? Was it a co-worker, family member, or good friend? And were you glad for the experience whether you enjoyed it or not? Studies actually suggest that trying new things improves our overall happiness and well being and can lead to improved mental health.

How to Convince Your Partners to Try New Call Scheduling SoftwareWe often try new things easily in our personal life — a new food, a new activity, or a new book. But trying new things in the workplace can present more of a challenge. We may fear trying a new technique or system could fail, and leave us worse off than before. Or we may feel like we don't have the time to learn anything new at work with schedules packed full of meetings, appointments, and obligations. However, just like in our personal lives, we can benefit from trying new things in the workplace leading to improvements in our satisfaction with our jobs and helping us do our jobs better. 

New Practices in Medicine

In medical clinics, doctors often work to convince their partners and colleagues to try new things whether it is a new drug, treatment, or approach to treating patients. Doctors may also try to convince their partners to incorporate new software into a practice. Software can enhance a medical practice by streamlining different processes from documenting patient contacts to improving the physician schedule and on-call schedule. If you're ready to try new software but your partners aren't quite there, try these tips to convince other doctors in your practice to try something new.

Educate

We may decide not to try something new simply because we don't know anything about it. Giving your partners information about new software will help them feel more comfortable with the unknown and familiarize themselves with something new. Studies have shown that people actually fear unknown outcomes more than they do negative outcomes. Education takes away the unknown factor of new software and can help raise your partners' comfort level.

Testimonials 

We are all more likely to try something new if someone we know and trust has already tried it and had a positive outcome. Gather positive testimonials from trusted physicians you know either personally or by reputation to share with your colleagues. Many medical clinics have implemented physician scheduling software and the company you're considering can provide you with testimonials or you may know physicians in your specialty or geographic region who have stories to share.
 

Eliminate the Risk

What have you got to lose? You've heard that one before.

When the answer is truly nothing, then it's easier to try something new. Physician scheduling software usually comes with a 90-day risk-free trial period. During this time, the software company provides education and training to the clinic employees, support as new software is implemented and a guarantee that if the software doesn't work for the clinic, the practice owes nothing. By eliminating the risk, you give the partners in your clinic more of a reason to try new software.

Trying new things in the workplace brings about all kinds of benefits. You can save time, money and streamline difficult and complicated systems like the physician schedule. When you're ready to make a change but your partners aren't, remember these tips to encourage others to try new things.

Request a Consultation

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

Passing Physician Schedule Creation from Doc to Doc; Good or Bad Idea?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 @ 11:20 AM

potato-10050678According 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".

Request a Consultation

Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net