A trend that we in the physician work and on-call scheduling software space continue to see grow is the enterprise wide adoption of physician scheduling software by healthcare systems. Organizations go through an extensive vetting process to try and find a vendor with the best feature set at the lowest price and attempt to make that vendor a “standard” or a “preference” within the organization. I suspect that standardizing solutions makes it much easier on the IT Department in terms of contracting, negotiations and end support. I wonder if the users who create schedules for the physicians benefit from this type of “standard” adoption? My gut answer would probably be, sometimes.
Why Standardize: My best guess is that standardization does not originate at the department level. I don’t think that individual departments have that much concern for how things are being done in other departments. Not that they don’t care, but more because they have so much to focus on in their own area that there isn’t much time to concentrate on other areas. Therefore, I think this does come from IT or even purchasing to make the purchasing process easier for others down the road.
The technical argument for standardization is pretty cut and dry. A health care system can benefit from standardizing the “physician schedule creation process”, the “physician schedule change process”, the “daily call roster creation process” and the “availability of on-call information”. They can achieve this by choosing one vendor to provide on-call creation and on-call management software. The organization can create and enforce new “standards” that ultimately can help support the mission of the organization. As long as each department or specialty has the same needs and does things the same way, its more than likely a great idea. The big question is “do individual practices they have the same physician scheduling needs and “create, maintain and communicate” it the same way”?
- Every department gets a bucket of tools to use to assist them in the creation of the physician schedule. Some of the tools are intended to reduce the time it takes to manually schedule physicians.
- Often the solution will be paid with IT’s budget.
- Often better negotiated pricing and terms (volume discount)
- Reduction in the manual “data entry” process needed to create daily on-call rosters.
- Increased accuracy in the on-call information that is available to end users
- Some specialty groups are much more complex to schedule than others. Who do you buy the software for? The most complex group or the least complex group? Or perhaps somewhere in the middle? In my opinion standardization ultimately will give some groups way more tools than they need, and it will give others not enough. This is the classic “3-Bears” scenario.
- Some groups may already have a vendor relationship that they are already happy with. They don’t want or need to change. They do not see any personal value in changing.
- The cost could be higher by forcing small groups to use certain software that has more features than they need and is therefore more expensive.
Both pro and con lists have merit. I would not discount the largest and most poignant con of all, listed as number one. How do you overcome the three-bears scenario? I think it’s great that a Health Care System would choose a single vendor for a solution such as physician scheduling to attempt to standardize the process and tools.
Key Takeaway: Not everyone is the same. Specialty groups have unique needs, unique rules, unique processes, unique ways of paying and accounting for time worked. Maybe in the best interest of creating a great physician schedule, we should make it easier on the “schedulers” and “physicians” who must create and then work those schedules as opposed to those who buy and manage technology.
If standardization isn't your issue, but convincing your physicians that scheduling software will benefit them, you may enjoy this blog post "How to Get Physician Buy-In for Scheduling Software Adoption".
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