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

When hospitals and clinics don't play nice about oncall scheduling

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Nov 04, 2011 @ 01:51 PM

cooperationWhen hospitals and clinics don't play nice who wins?  I’m not sure, but I do know it's not the patient.  I was working with a few current clients who are part of the same medical community.  The community hospital (who is part of a large system) purchased an on-call management system (Call Communicator) from us to help eliminate their on-call communication problems better known as the "wrong doctor getting called" or unclear information regarding who is oncall.  This hospital made the decision to purchase a version of Call Scheduler for each medical clinic in the entire community.  The hospital also agreed to pay any ongoing maintenance fees.  In my opinion the hospital moved forward on this initiative for the following reasons;

  1. Increase physician satisfaction by making sure the wrong doctors are not called.
  2. Increase patient care by reducing the time it takes ED and Telecom staff to identify and locate the correct on-call doctor.
  3. Reduce the risk of an EMTALA fine by having the proper on-call documentation.
  4. Increase employee satisfaction by not getting yelled at if the wrong doctors are called.
  5. Putting the responsibility of call schedule accuracy in the hands of the call schedule owners (the clinics).

Out of 20 clinics within the community there are several who have refused to participate in this free program and will not use the provided software to maintain their own schedules.  They have basically said to the hospital, screw you or in Minnesota-nice "go fly a kite".  What this means is that the hospital now has to make exceptions for a few organizations because they do not want to make any waves. 

In another example we have a hospital that has sent out several meeting requests and asked all of the schedulers from each clinic to join them at the hospital for a 1 hour free refresher on "maintaining your on-call schedule".  Not only did several of the groups just not show up, but I heard from one of the doctors at one of the groups say "when our administrator gets those things she just throws them away".  WHAT?

Now clearly I have frustrations because as a company we are trying to help hospitals and clinics formalize a new way of communicating oncall.  I have a personal stake in the success of these programs.  But let’s think about it from another point of view, how does the patient benefit from the clinics not getting along with the hospital?  They don't.  I think that as professionals these organizations need to grow up and start thinking about the patients instead of the "old things" that have put up walls between organizations.

In my world when a clinic refuses to cooperate with a hospital implementing a new oncall management system it says that "when our patients present at your hospital we don't care how long you or they have to wait to track down the correct doctor.  I think that is just plain wrong.  That is poor business, poor customer service and just plain selfish.  When hospitals and clinics don’t play nice about oncall scheduling, the patient is the one that looses.

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