In many physician owned medical groups business decisions are made in a group setting. Often times the group's administrator will collect items that require decisions and bring them to a bi-monthly meeting where the stakeholders can decide if and how they want to spend the groups money.
In a previous blog post "Call Scheduling: A Thankless Job" I talked about the history of why there is a doctor creating the schedule in the first place. I also give some advice on what to do if your partners do not value the extra work that you do.
I speak with physicians all the time who are tasked with creating the call schedule, but when they ask their partners for some assistance in the form of software like Call Scheduler, they deny the request. Why do they do this? I think it is because creating the call schedule is not their problem, and they either don’t realize how difficult it is, or they don’t care. If the shoe were on the other foot, their decision might be different. The unfortunate thing about this scenario is that many times the physician scheduler does not want to push back or make waves and instead will just "do it" to keep the peace. This causes dissatisfaction between the physician partners and it will manifest itself in some way at some point within the group. It may not be identified or even discussed, but believe me; if you have been the victim of this behavior someday you will want to get the group back.
Just yesterday I received an email from a newly minted Chief Resident. As you know, one of the glorious duties of the Chief is to create the call schedule for the troops. Most cases the University department has a small budget to help the Chief out with expenses like call scheduling software. This young doctor told me that he has to pay for it himself. I was surprised that he was willing to do that. What that says to me is that the work is so bad that a student would be willing to pay for a solution that ultimately benefits the University.
In situations other than the Chief Resident, a doctor that has been given a difficult task, such as physician call scheduling, without any tools to complete the job, should strongly consider giving the job back to his or her partners. Why? Because if it is important to your group that the right doctor show up in the right place at the right time (EMTALA law) to serve your and others patients, than it should be important enough to the group that the person doing the job has the proper tools to do the best job possible, especially if your time is as valuable as a physician.
I think the worst thing you could do is say, "ok" and go on about your duties. If you can, demand that your group fix the problem. You’re a Doctor; your time is very valuable and, should not be wasted. If this is your scenario remember your time is being undervalued, you are being undervalued and being on-call is being undervalued. Don't let that happen, in this case you have the ability to make it stop.
If you are the victim of someone else’s decision not to buy on-call software, hopefully this will be some good food for thought.