When making an investment into automated physician shift and on-call scheduling software it’s important that you consider your needs in addition to your budget. It’s can be easy to over-buy especially when there are trained sales people that may be trying to convince you that your current and future needs are greater than they really are.
I have made this mistake myself. Several years ago, when our company started getting larger we needed a better customer resource management (CRM) system. We ultimately choose Salesforce.com because of all the bells and whistles that it has. As you may or may not know it is a very sizable annual investment that is based on the number of users. Off and on we have used about 1/3 of the total features the system has to offer. Granted as we grow we do implement more and more, but we today we use most of the basics. We have overspent by a lot over the past several years by under utilizing the system, thinking that we need more features than we can consume. Unfortunately, with Salesforce.com there are not a lot of good alternatives like there are in other industries, such as software for scheduling doctors. Over the years I wish I would have had a solution available that would have been more “right-sized” that we could have downgraded to.
Another personal example is when we moved from using a basic version to an enterprise version of inbound marketing software Hubspot. About a year after we signed up we thought we needed to do more and take more advantage of things like workflows and A/B testing. We made the upgrade to Enterprise version only to find out that we already had a ton on our plate just managing what we had and getting everyone to use the existing tool set. Thankfully Hubspot’s model allowed us to “right size” the solution and we were able to downgrade to something not only more affordable but was a better match to the features we used most often.
Bringing this back to scheduling physicians for on-call and shift assignments using automated software, in this industry there exists a large gap between way-too-few features, paired with outdated interfaces and very little support and way-too-many features, so many in fact that set-up and process development takes months. That is the exact reason why Call Scheduler is focused on the “middle” and try to talk about buying the “right-sized” product. Right sizing not only refers to features, but also monthly per provider price. Since no-one in this market offers a downgrade path one of the only options available is to change your vendor.
Buying too much or investing in too large of a scheduling system is a legitimate concern for many administrators and physicians. Spending too much money on a product that you are not fully utilizing is a waste of money that you are reminded of each month. In today's environment of managed care, declining reimbursements, increasing costs of mandated tools such as EMR and cloud data storage, every penny is important. Some claim that a collection of small purchases that were bigger than you needed in your operating budget can be the difference between profit and loss.
Most practice administrators pride themselves on pinching every penny twice. This is how they can lead practices that provide excellent care, right sizing everything from the building to the staff count to the patient load, to give them the best chances of running a profitable practice.
Here are some common symptoms that you may be experiencing if you overbought:
- After 6 months, your using only basic features such as rule-based scheduling, vacation/time-off requests and tally reports
- Although you had good intentions to integrate into your payroll and time tracking system you have not, it seemed important at the time of the sale
- Your organization is not happy with their current EMR so integrating your scheduling software into your EMR is always put on hold by IT or administration
- Some of your doctors use secure messaging, but not everyone, so integration between the two systems could cause you to have to use two systems instead of one.
- Your finding some of the features more difficult to implement than you thought because they require organizational change, which you have found is difficult
- Your current vendor is releasing new features that you can’t even keep up with or see the need for
- Your doctors still call you about the schedule, some won’t even use the app
- Your doctors claim that they can’t learn one more thing so your nervous about trying to get them to use some of the new, cool stuff
- You have reverted to some or all your old paper, email and Excel process
- You just don’t have the time to be able to commit to the project, and feel as if your wasting money
What if you are having some feelings that you over bought? If you are having any of these thoughts, now may be the time to reconsider your current vendor and solution. You may want to check your agreement to see how much of your initial term you have left. I am not suggesting abandoning everything and going all the way back to paper and Excel, although for some people that might be the best business decision for their practice. More than likely right sizing your software and really focusing on the features that you need and will use almost daily may be worth considering.
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