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

Think Pareto Principal when looking at oncall scheduling software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 @ 11:05 AM

ParetoDoes everything have to be perfect?  When is good enough, good enough?  The Pareto Principle, or 80-20 rule as it's also known, is based on the observation that, in life, the minority of causes, inputs or efforts produce the majority of effects, results, or rewards.

In 1906 an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, discovered that 20% of the Italian population owned 80% of the nation’s wealth. Further studies revealed that The Pareto Principle, as it became known, affects us all in every aspect of life.

This has real value in every aspect of your life and work. If you can identify which efforts get the best results, you can apply your time and focus far more effectively.

In other words, you do more of what actually matters, as the time management matrix explains.

For example…

  • 20% of your tasks produce 80% of your results.
  • 20% of a meeting gives you 80% of the information.
  • 20% of your contribution produces 80% of the recognition you get.
  • 20% of clients create 80% of your sales.
  • 20% of the clothes in your wardrobe are worn 80% of the time!

Focus on the vital few.  Think about it in terms of productivity.  If someone offered you a tool today and told you that it would solve 80% of your problems wouldn’t you be excited?  I sure as hell would.  I have found in my 15 years of running businesses that 100% is nearly unachievable unless you have an unlimited budget. 20% of software features will generally give you 80% of your results.

As I talk with prospects daily many of them are looking to solve 100% of their problem.  Do you think most people know what 100% of their problem looks like?  Some think they do, for example, if you are a book keeper, you probably know what a complete accounting solution looks like, why, because it is mostly the same for each book keepers.  Everyone wants an AR and AP tool.  Everyone needs balance sheet and P&L reports.  Everyone needs to export certain information for taxes.  But does everyone need payroll, or credit card processing or SEC reporting tools?  Probably not.  Out of the box (without any customization) most accounting software will cover the basics and either offer customization additional modules for sale for added features.

If we look at the 80/20 principal in terms of scheduling doctors I would highly suggest that anyone that is using Excel or even better if you are still creating your schedule by hand think about what is important to you.  Time off requests, tallies, rules would probably cover 80% of schedule creation, maintenance and publishing.  If you are willing to "start here" you will not only save a tremendous amount of time, but you will be focusing on what is important.

Here is an example.  10 Doctor group that specializes in Cardiology.  The scheduler is currently a physician that creates the calendar by hand using Excel.  Call Scheduler Lite (shameless plug) as well as Amion has a solution that begins at $249.00 per year.  It does not get any less expensive than that.  A solution such as the above mentioned will give you many tools specific to scheduling that Excel will not.  I was talking to this physician and his biggest concern was "how the schedule printed".  Now keep in mind that at least our company is "web-based" so although we allow, we do not encourage printing of the schedule.  A printed schedule is an out-of-date schedule.  An out-of-date schedule increases the likelihood that the wrong physician gets called.  Now granted we allow printing, this person wanted it printed a certain way, his way.  Digging in your heals on a particular feature is very short sighted in my opinion.  At least 80% of our and our competitor’s features would have been a good fit for this group.  The price was a no-brainer for a Cardiologist.  But, this doctor could not see the sky through the clouds.

I tell you this story because in my opinion as a corporate leader, this way of thinking is not in the best interest of the organization or its stakeholders.  Do you think that the other 9 providers in the above mentioned Cardiology group would have staged a mass revolt if the printed schedule was one way versus another?  Maybe, but maybe not if they saw the other major benefits of using software to create a physician schedule.  I think 80% of the group would have been fine with the change.  This prospect could have used the software and 20% of the features that we have would have given him 80% of the schedule.  That is much better than Excel.

Now granted, as a standard exclaimer, I am talking about the software industry.  There are many things where 80% is not enough.  For example tire pressure, glass window coverage, dental work, CPR, sex.  But again please remember that we are talking about software.  Remember 20% is going to be used most.

If you are looking for 100% satisfaction regarding feature set, my only advice to you is to get real.  In software it is too expensive and not realistic. Think about the top 3 things you want to accomplish and start there.

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