Choosing which physician scheduling program to buy to create, change and communicate your physician schedule has never been easier. Earlier, it was because there were very few programs available. Today, ironically, it is because there are too many! Physicians and administrators are very confused as to which program they should buy – sometimes, too much choice can be as bad as too little.
Common mistakes providers have made when purchasing on call software.
- Thinking they need too many bells and whistles: Some practices want their software to do everything from scheduling to payroll. When we look at the features that most practices use every day its often the same set of tools.
- Trying to save a penny: It’s a simple fact of life that investment reaps rich rewards. Why haggle over a few dollars and try to find the cheapest option? Negotiating is great, but choosing quality, support and peace of mind is far more important than trying a save a few bucks. It’s easy to get a local company to make a simple Excel spreadsheet to maintain your call schedule. However, in the long run it makes more sense to invest a little more in good software – preferably from a company which is completely focused on the healthcare physician scheduling space. Medical practice is a complex domain, and a software engineer who doesn’t spend time understanding this cannot make a good product. This is why the early successful packages were created by doctors because they did have the right idea. However, they did not have the savvy to remain up-to-date with the latest technology. Every doctor I know earns enough to invest in a good package which will enhance his practice. Choose your vendor carefully – after all, you want them to be your partners for life and for this, they need to make enough profit.
- Buying too much. The opposite of trying to save a penny is getting sold on a set of features that are way more than you need or are going to use. Countless practices are still creating physician on call schedules on paper or with Excel. If this is you, I can guarantee that you don't need things like artificial intelligence (AI) or payroll integration. In fact many of those products can cause you to loose focus on your goal, which is to automate what you are currently doing on paper.
- Thinking that one size fits all. This is one of the biggest traps that CIO's and other IT people tend to fall into. If they have 20 departments within their organization they buy the solution that has the most features and automation which may be great for 1 or 2 very large departments, while the others have tools they never will use. This causes everyone's budget to suffer. There are very few exceptions to this rule. The only people this is easier on is IT.
Here is a list of core physician scheduling software tools that you will use daily:
- Day-off and vacation request tools
- Tools to facilitate a swap between two providers
- Scheduling rules
- Auto scheduling tools such as an "engine" that randomly places people fairly based on rules
- A "template scheduler" to repeat patterns and templates
- Manual scheduling tools to place people exactly where you want them or to make changes
- Tally reports to prove fairness
- Online and mobile schedules to view the information and ditch the paper
If your practice is still creating physician on-call and shift schedules using paper, Excel or Google Calendar and you're thinking of upgrading to on call software to create and communicate your physician schedule, don't get sold into buying more than you need.