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

What Does It Mean To Be a Good On-Call Citizen?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 @ 09:50 AM

ID 10077777As a self proclaimed physician on-call geek I attended an audio conference last leek titled “Building the Right On-Call Policy”.  The conference was geared at medical staff professionals yet I thought the topic of EMTALA compliance was not only interesting but it appears to be somewhat of a moving target, so I wanted to be sure I understood the latest and greatest CMS Memorandum concerning Critical Access Hospitals, Telemedicine and EMTALA On-Call Compliance.  During the audio conference one of the presenters used a term that I had not heard before, a “good on-call citizen”.  After the conference one of my colleagues and I both had made notes of that term and sat and talked for a while about what it could possibly mean to be a “good on-call citizen”. 

If you have read any of my previous posts, you know that I am not a physician, but I am on-call for our company regularly.  I am interested in starting a conversation about what it means to be a good on-call citizen and also hearing stories from others about their experiences at times when others have gone above and beyond the call-of-duty. 

We all know that physicians go above and beyond regularly when it comes to taking care of their patients.  I hear and read stories all the time (and some we even post on our Facebook page about the heroes of medicine.  Many of the stories are about physicians putting in long hours or doing extraordinary things or taking extraordinary measures to save a life.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think of those as great things, unique in the sense that if 100 people were all in a similar situation, only 1 or maybe 2 would do something great.  I am trying to get at a more of a basic simple kindness or sense of responsibility to just in fact do what you’re supposed to do.  For example, how often would you bend down to pick up a piece of trash off of the street or in a park.  We all know it’s the right thing to do, yet most walk right over it.

As I was thinking about this topic further, I Google’d the phrase “what does it mean to be a good citizen” I got about 44,100,000 results.  I saw terms such as law abiding, decent, helping, respect, attitude, nice, and a lot more uses of the term helping.  One of the phrases I liked most was “serving when called upon”.  I am amazed that each and every term or phrase that I found directly applies to being a good on-call citizen, especially serving when called upon.

I have written posts in the past about why I am so passionate about on-call, part of the reason is that I own a software company where that is the focus of our business.  Scheduling doctors and others for on-call is how we make money and how my company contributes to the global economy.  Because of this, as I stated above I am on-call a lot when it comes to maintaining an infrastructure of 99.9% service uptime.  We take that seriously at all hours of the day, especially nights, weekends and holidays.  Our service being up and available allows a hospital Emergency Department to locate a trauma team after a terrible automobile accident.  The team at Call Scheduler is one link in a very long and extensive chain that helps hospitals and doctors save lives all over the world.

I have prepared a set of questions that can help determine of you or someone you know is or is not a good on-call citizen. 

  • How do you feel about being on-call, is it a big pain-in-the-ass or part of your honored duty as a needed member or the medical community?
  • Do you respond when you are paged / texted or called with a smile or do you act like the person on the other end is bothering you?
  • When you are needed do you respond as quickly as safely possible?
  • Do you question others judgments differently at 3:00am than you do at 3:00pm?
  • Do you think you’re the only one that is inconvenienced when you are paged?
  • Do you hide your pager number of phone number from other providers such as nursing staff to avoid being called?
  • Do you offer to help out when others do not respond?
  • Do you serve when called upon?

Congratulations if you are a good on-call citizen, you are doing the job you’re supposed to be doing.  If you are not as good of an on-call citizen as you should be, there is always time to change.  After all you are only one page or call away from changing your behavior.

Key Takeaway:  Whenever I get called in the middle of the night or anytime I try to remember that it’s not the person on the other end of the phones fault that our system needs help, they just need what we have in order to do their job.  After all sometimes it’s nice to know you’re needed.

Image courtesy of Frameangel /

Topics: on call

A Specialists Guide to Surviving On-Call on Christmas

Posted by Justin Wampach on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 @ 04:34 PM

santa hatAt American hospitals, deciding who works which holidays is always a big deal.  While some medical staff like nurses volunteer to work “the biggies” like Christmas and Thanksgiving (especially since they receive premium pay for holiday shifts), most prefer to be home with their families. The way holiday staffing works for nurses is that nurse managers select staff based on whose turn it is to work the holiday, who volunteers, seniority and skills.  They make sure there are enough experienced nurses, unit clerks, surgical technicians and other essential staff to keep their hospital unit fully staffed and open for business. 

The circumstances are usually different for the Doctors since most are not paid extra to be on-call, days like Thanksgiving and Christmas are just another day of on-call duty that they dread.  If you are the lucky Doctor that gets Christmas this year here are a few things to remember as you sit in the physician lounge waiting for the page from the Labor and Delivery unit that your patient is ready.

  1. Be glad you have a stable job. In these trying economic times, you have an good solid income to help pay for your needs, wants and also gifts for your loved ones.
  2. Give sacrificially to someone less fortunate than you. Work with your children on some small gifts you can take to your patients on Christmas Day. You will be teaching them to give and including them in the joy that you have of helping others.
  3. Plan the pot luck for those working the holiday. Getting festive with your co-workers can be a blast and will remind you that you’re not alone.  Try to include everyone, not just other Doctors.
  4. Shop for the perfect Christmas “bling” to wear to work. This could be a basic Santa Hat or some ornament to wear.  You can be excited to “show it off” and cheer everyone up on the holiday.
  5. Set aside special family time around Christmas. Since you know you’re on-call on Christmas, you may need to consider minimizing time at grandma's house if this is not relaxing for your family. Your family needs special time. Try to make your time with them intimate and special; they won’t mind that it is the day before or the day after.
  6. Get creative and have a surprise gift delivered to your loved ones while you work. They will know that you love them and that you were thinking about them while you're at the hospital.
  7. Do something special for the group that is working. Leave small gifts or cards with the nurse’s names on them telling how much you appreciate them being there on the holiday. 
  8. Remember it’s just a few hours; it’s not a lifetime. Maybe it means that you were able to spend time with your family at Thanksgiving or on New Years while your partners are working.
  9. Control your feelings by controlling your thoughts. If you are obsessing about how angry or sad you are, you will be angry and sad. Instead, tell yourself working the holiday is an opportunity to show the true spirit of Christmas to your coworkers, family and patients. If you have a positive attitude, happy feelings will follow.
  10. Be proud that you work holidays – you care when no one else does. Take this time to rejuvenate yourself with love and kindness for your fellow man. You're a Doctor. Be a great one.

Key Takeaway: Be thankful that you are not a Hospitalist or an ER Doctor that will have to be at the hospital working for 12 solid hours, or a solo practitioner that will have to be on-call again next Christmas.   Oh and by the way, thank you!

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Topics: physician scheduling, on call

Are you a victim of someone else's decision not to by oncall software?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Thu, May 24, 2012 @ 02:13 PM

dont be a victimIn 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.

Topics: call scheduling software, oncall, on call, adopting on-call software, on call schedule

10 Mistakes Doctors Have Made Buying On-call Software (part 2)

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, May 11, 2012 @ 09:48 AM

describe the imageDoctors who wish to enhance their practice and provide better care and service to their patients and themselves by using physician scheduling software are on the right track. Unfortunately, they don’t always go about it the right way.

Last week we posted three of the top ten mistakes that doctors have made when purchasing call scheduling software.  Here is a recap of the top 3, along with number four through ten.

  1. Wanting too many bells and whistles. 

  2. Trying to save a penny. 

  3. Thinking someone else understand your business.

  4. Losing sight of the basics – KISS:  Your primary aim is to improve your productivity, and you should always keep this in mind! Anything else should come later. For example, we have clients who request payroll integration in their on-call software. But delaying an order or cancelling an order based on just this one feature is unjustified. Nice to have is not the same as “essential” – and adding too many features just results in “bloatware”. It is a mistake to want your software to do too many things right from the start. Get what is essential, and build from there.

  5. Waiting for something better:  Doctors often keep on waiting for something better to come along. Unless you don’t jump in the water, you aren’t going to learn how to swim. Some of the best run private hospitals have been early adopters of technology. Today they might still be using legacy systems, but they are much better run than non IT friendly setups. It’s true that software will evolve over time, but you cannot wait for perfection. Software is always a work in progress, which gets improved and polished incrementally.

  6. Thinking your staff shares your vision:  Many good doctors buy the perfect software and then find that it does not help them at all. Often they blame the software for being unfriendly or useless. Most doctors fail to understand that their staff is one of the key stake holders in this process. Unless the staff uses the software, it is bound to fail. The software may be the best in the world, but if it is not used properly, it isn’t living up to its potential. Doctors need to be firm and to share their vision for the software with their staff. It is a mistake to assume that software will be easily adopted by support staff, nurses and fellow doctors. Provide lots of training – and if some members refuse to use this, you need to take them to task.

  7. Not nurturing innovation:  The biggest stake holders in this industry are the doctors. It is important for them to nurture innovation. Sometimes it is valuable to take a risk or allow a software company to go that extra mile in providing a feature which will change the process flow of your clinic. Doctors who refuse to try out products which provide extra features or new age ideas because they do not understand its utility are closing the door on innovation. A doctor who asks me to block some modules to save money because he feels he will not use them is basically closing his own mind to the potential of using new processes to improve his practice. Do not buy the module in the beginning, but keep an open mind.

  8. Underestimating the complexity of your needs:  Running a clinic is running a small business. It’s a complex enterprise, and often doctors over-estimate their ability to do a good job. Ideally, you should be focused on taking care of your patients, so your staff can run the clinic. If you find you are spending time on routine administrative tasks, this means you are wasting your time and money. There are only 24 hours is your day – learn to use them sensibly. A good doctor scheduling software program will help you to improve your productivity and that of your staff, if you use it to its fullest extent.  Don’t get stuck buying a cheap program which was designed for a small shop – you will end up being unhappy and dissatisfied.

  9. Delaying a decisions:  The single biggest mistake a doctor makes in buying call scheduling software is when he delays his decisions – whether it is thinking about his needs; talking to the vendor; spelling out his requirement; installing the program ; or getting training for his staff. As a result, the vendor is frustrated; the doctor is confused; the staff is anxious. Start small – but start today!

  10. Not providing enough time for training.  While doctors understand that learning a new medical procedure can take time, unfortunately, they are not willing to invest the same time in training their staff – and themselves – in learning how to use the software properly.  This can cause a lot of frustration and when this happens, many doctors just give up on the idea of using any software at all, because they feel their staff is either too busy or not willing to learn something new.  Give your team the benefit of the doubt, also lead by example.  Show your team how important this change is by being a part of it.

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

10 Mistakes Doctors Have Made When Buying Physician Scheduling Software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, May 04, 2012 @ 09:51 AM

mistakesChoosing which program to buy to create, maintain and publish your call schedule has never been easy.   Earlier, it was because there were very few programs available.  Today, ironically, it is because there are too many!  Doctors are very confused as to which program they should buy – sometimes, too much choice can be as bad as too little.

Doctors have some special character traits which software producers need to be aware of.

  • To be able to treat a patient and be confident that your decision is right requires tremendous self confidence, which means doctors often have a big ego. Many take the approach that they are always right - even in a field like computer technology.
  • Doctors have a tremendous thirst to learn. Years of med school training allows you to pick up knowledge quickly and most doctors who want to buy software are quite knowledgeable about computers. However, sometimes a little knowledge can be dangerous , and often what doctors know about computers and software leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Doctors are pressed for time, and hence their decisions are based on the fact that “anything that does not gel with me is going to hamper me”. Rather than try to improve their workflow with the help of computers, they’d rather stick to their old dysfunctional habits, even if this hampers their efficiency.

Doctors who wish to enhance their practice and provide better care and service to their patients and themselves by using physician scheduling software are on the right track. Unfortunately, they don’t always go about it the right way. 

10 mistakes doctors have made when purchasing call scheduling software.

  1. Wanting too many bells and whistles:  Some doctors want their software to do everything for them. Sometimes putting too many things in your software tends to delay its deployment and make it too complicated to use. Often, some doctors will end up not buying any program at all, because it does not have everything which they want – which means they deprive themselves of a great opportunity of improving their efficiency in 80% of their practice.  For example, in EMR software some doctors want the entire drug database of 15000 drugs in their software.  Now you know you will never use even 1/100th of these. There are enough online resources to give you these details when you do require this esoteric information. Why load this redundant data in your software and make it slow by cramming it with stuff you will never use? It’s much more sensible to have a small efficient intelligent drug database which you can grow over time. Stick to the basics - your aim is to improve your practice - not to solve the world healthcare crises.

  2. 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.

  3. Thinking someone else understand your business:  A lot of doctors tend to put too much trust in what their software vendor is doing for them. They feel he is the expert, and knows what he is doing. If a custom built package is being made, unless you provide the vendor with adequate knowledge on your processes, templates, wants and need, the program will never do what you want it to. Remember the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out”.  I know doctors who just give a brief outline of what they want and leave it at that. Now the vendor is left scratching his head because he does not really understand what is required of him. He muddles through – but what he produces is not what the doctor wanted, which means a lot of time, money and energy are wasted – and the cycle needs to be repeated again. If you want a custom built solution, you need to be very closely involved. You cannot delegate this. You need to provide all the information required personally. More importantly, you need to review and ask for updates from time to time. Often, the project gets needlessly delayed because the doctor realizes that this was not what he wanted only after the complete package is delivered to him.  Do you really have time for this?  If you are a full time physician, probably not.
View Mistakes #4 through #10

Topics: software for scheduling physicians, physician software, scheduling software, physician scheduling, on call, on-call software, physician scheduling software, adopting on-call software, on call scheduler

6 Sure Signs You're Ready for a Call Scheduling Change

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 10:56 AM

change ahead

When a medical organization gets ready to make a change to their physician call scheduling system there are several early indicators to success that you should be on the look-out for.

  1. You're willing to make modifications to your current process.  This is a "biggie".  It is imperative that you come to the table with an open mind.  Unless you are creating custom software specifically tailored to your groups needs, you will need to be somewhat flexible regarding the old way versus the new way.  Have a discussion with your providers to gain a good understanding of the things that your group will and will not modify.

  2. You're willing to make some changes to your current rules.  Similar to number 1, you need to have some bit of flexibility here unless you are prepared to have the software built for you.  Remember this is very expensive.  Most companies like ours work hard to deliver 80% of what most medical groups needs when it comes to creating, maintaining and publishing call scheduling software.  It is not cost effective to develop the other 20%.  Instead of looking at this as a limitation, look at it as an opportunity to standardize your practice with other practices.  Also be aware that if you need to accommodate every rule that every doctor comes up with, you will be doing a lot of manual scheduling (not that there is anything wrong with that).

  3. You're willing to make some changes to your schedule length.  There is a mathematical equation that helps us determine what the optimum length of a call schedule should be to get the best tallies.  That equation is based on the number of providers you are scheduling, the number of jobs you are scheduling and the amount of vacations/days off that you allow.  Be open to this.  Most software will not be a good fit if you are trying to make weekly schedules and need fair tallies.  Most of the scheduling limitations today stem from the schedulers available time or the large number of changes from the providers after the schedule is "final".

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  4. You have identified your group’s top 3 needs.  This is another "biggie".  Take time to meet with your providers and understand what are the top 3 "deal breakers" or according the Urban Dictionary "an element in the making of a deal, essential to one of the parties. Without it, that very party would never consent".  Clearly understand what the group cannot live without.  I would caution you to limit your list to a few.  When and if your top 3 needs have been meet, then go back and see what the next needs should be.  The purpose of this is to understand what is important and focus your efforts there.

  5. You have established a budget or have funds available.  Although most people I talk to say that they don't have a budget, they do have discretionary funds available to accomplish certain strategic initiatives.  If you do not have this available you are probably not too serious about solving your problem.  That's ok, let’s just be clear about where you are in the buying process so that you are not bombarded with "are you ready to buy yet" from your sales person.  I would also encourage you to develop a budget to accomplish things that are important to the group’s success.  This will allow the group to move forward quicker regarding decision making.

  6. You have time set aside to configure and learn a new program.  If you are "up to your eyeballs in alligators", now may not be a good time to take on an additional project.  This should be taken into consideration.  Not having time or not making time can derail a new software project faster than anything else I have seen.  If a real problem exists that needs to be solved, people will make time.  If your boss is not giving you time to learn and implement, I would ask if this is really a priority project.  Also keep in mind the type of time we are referring to is "uninterrupted time".

Key Takeaway:  If you are not ready to change, don't.  Take a careful look at the list above and be realistic about your answers.  Not ready now does not mean not ready ever.  Plan your change and your outcomes will be worth it.

Topics: call scheduling software, oncall, on call, call scheduling

Everyone's a winner in a paid trial of call scheduling software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

winnerWould you purchase a car without test driving it? Would you buy a pair of pants without trying them on? We follow the rule of "try before you buy" every day without even thinking about it. Of course, we should follow that same sound principal when we're purchasing an important business tool such as physician scheduling software.

Try before you buy, that seems to be a common theme now days.  I hear it suggested in everything from living together before you are married to purchasing physician scheduling software.  Why, because most people learn some very valuable "stuff" when they try something.

Here are some valuable reasons to try before you buy:

  1. Get a real look under the engine.  You will probably learn something new when you get "full access" to software.  Most product demos hide some of the real gems until after you become a customer.  A trial is a good way to see what's under the hood.
  2. Test results versus your results.  It’s an old marketing trick to display some amazing results or claims on a website or during a demo.  Where the rubber meets the road is when you put your data into a system and see what the results are.  Now will it still meet your needs?
  3. Tests drive the training and service department.  Did you ever notice how nice everyone is when you are buying something?  You tend to see true colors shine through after some of the "newness" has worn off.  If the team is still nice and helpful after 90 days you have probably picked a winner.  Most people can't fake it that long.
  4. Find the hidden gems.  Many times after you use something new you will find a few hidden benefits that you never realized you needed.  These are really fun because they were unexpected.  Some software customers tell us that the gems can sometimes outweigh the original headline features, meaning that they find savings and benefits in different ways.
  5. Limit your risk.  No one wants to look foolish in front of their professional partners.  As I have learned (the hard way) it makes sense when trying something new to limit your risk.  Most of the time when purchasing something like call scheduling software the largest risk is the term: of the agreement.  With a trial you can be sure that everything is a good fit before you make a commitment.

Is a paid trial of call scheduling software ever a waste?  In my opinion, no.  Everyone’s a winner.  You will learn some very valuable lessons and in the end you should know more than when you began.  Sounds like a win to me.



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

Purchasing on-call software: advise from the trenches

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Apr 06, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

focusWhere should the focus be?

Here are the top 6 things that you should focus on when comparing on-call software.

1.  Almost everyone that I work with gets caught up in "how the software works" especially when you are talking about rules.  This is an area of endless analysis paralysis.  Why?  Because you have no idea what the results of scheduling software will be until you enter your data into the system and try to create a schedule.  Period.  Although we have a large amount of Cardiology groups, there are some that we are not a good fit for.  Why?  Because, when the customer (and our trainer) evaluated the first few schedules, the customer was not satisfied with the results.  Let me be clear, THIS DOES NOT MATTER. 

2.  Do not focus on features, instead focus on results.  Know what your desired results are and drive towards them.  Sit down with your stakeholders and have a realistic brainstorming meeting about what you are trying to accomplish.  Use a whiteboard to write them all down.  When you are finished, use the old SWAT consulting method, colored dots.  Give each person a few dots and have them pick their top 3 and place their dots next to them.  When you are finished  you should have a list of your top 3 needs. 

3.  Be realistic regarding your needs.  The top three areas where people are unrealistic when it comes to call scheduling software are (a) how many rules we can have that limit or exclude, and (b) how long to run the schedule to achieve fair tallies.  (c) how many people can be off at one time.  Our trainers hear this over and over and over.  Without sounding like a smart-aleck you need to understand simple math.  The smaller the number of providers that you have, the fewer rules that you can have if you want to have someone available.  The same is true regarding vacations.  It is very similar when it comes to fair tallies, the number of providers, the number of jobs and the number of days that you are scheduling all have to "play nice" or you will not achieve fairness.  

4.  Try before you buy.  If you agree with my first item, all of the individual features of the software are not relevant; you will agree that the results are.  If that is true, this is where most of your time should be spent, trying out the software.  I personally think a trial should be between 60-120 days.  This will give your group enough time to set-up, configure, create, publish, modify, evaluate and make a decision.  Oh and by the way,  there is a cost to try out good software.  Just like your business, a software company has to pay its trainers, sales people and usually has to pay to develop the software before they can get their first client.  What I mean by this is that they are running a business, they are professionals, and professionals get paid for their work. 

5.  How much risk are you willing to assume if this project is a bomb?  Considering the large amount of uncertainty when it comes to the results of scheduling software, and considering that the results are subjective, I would highly recommend limiting your risk as much as you can.  How do you limit your risk?  Well in the case of buying software, find a vendor who uses a monthly, pay-as-you-go model.  For many of our new clients who begin using our software their biggest financial risk is only one month of service.  You can't get any less risk than that. 

6.  The best businesses are the ones with the best people.  Make sure that when you are selecting your new call scheduling software partner that you choose one with great training and support.  I promise you that this will make all of the difference in the world.  Most of you know the old saying, "there's more than one way to skin a cat", the same is true with software, there are several ways to achieve your desired results.  Your biggest advocate will be the trainer.

To read the complete article "Where should the focus be" you can download our whitepaper on our website.

Topics: software for scheduling physicians, scheduling software, on call, physician scheduling software, call scheduling

Do you know your cost to create and maintain your on call schedule?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Fri, Mar 23, 2012 @ 10:19 AM

calculatorWe all know what a pain-in-the-butt it is to create, maintain and publish an on call schedule for the doctors in your specialty clinic.  (If you’re new, here is why it sucks)

  • The process is very time consuming to create a schedule
  • The results are perceived as unfair
  • It is difficult to publish to the internet 
  • The providers want access to their schedule on their phone
  • Constant swaps and changes throughout the month

Because of the items listed above we are seeing more and more specialty groups having an administrator or physician create, maintain and publish the physician on-call schedule.  Many of them are even asked to do it on their own time.

Let’s say for example that you are and administrator or physician who is tasked to do the call schedule.  Perhaps you are interested in exploring if there is some software available that can assist you, how do you know how much is too much to pay? Well, the first question you need to ask yourself is, "how much is it costing me today"?  Do you know what your costs are?  Many doctors and administrators do not know and in fact some of them will say that it is not costing anything because they have to do it on their own time at home. 

As a business manager or owner, the "cost" of something is a very important number.  How will you know if you can cut your cost if you don't know what it is to begin with?  Because I have heard this over-and-over we decided to build a cost calculator to help you.  This is very different from a traditional ROI calculator.  The differences are major because an ROI calculator is a sales tool, and a cost calculator is a management tool.

If you do not know what it costs you today to create, maintain and publish your physician on-call schedule I would encourage you to answer our brief 8 question form and learn your cost.  It will take you less than 5 minutes to learn your results.  If you use Call Scheduler's cost calculator, you can be assured that this is a management tool.  We will not be using it to "sell you" our software. 

We want knowledgeable prospects and we are willing to make investments to help the entire medical community understand the costs around creating, maintaining and publishing a call schedule for your doctors.

To give it a try, click hereto begin.

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Topics: physician software, physician scheduling, on call, on call schedule, call scheduling

The Battle Between Rules vs. Preferences in Oncall Software

Posted by Justin Wampach on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 @ 11:10 AM

sward fightingAs you may or may not have noticed I have been consistently publishing weekly Blog articles since about March 2011.  Anyone that has ever written a Blog knows how difficult it is to create content that will be valuable to its readers.  In a recent audit of my work by a seasoned professional I was told that I need more of an insider vs. expert point of view.  Please bare with me as I try to find my new style :).

Do you know what the difference is between a rule and a preference as it relates to call scheduling?  I bet you don't.  I speak with all types of people who create, maintain and publish on-call schedules I find it interesting how may people talk about their need for rules.  Everyone needs rules.  What we find more often than not is that unless you have been using on-call software you probably have a lot of preferences and a few rules.  Whats the difference, lets find out.  According to our friends at Wikipedia, a rule usually refers to standards for activities.  Preference on the other hand refers to evaluative judgment in the sense of liking or disliking an object.  Preference can be notably modified by the decision-making processes.  Do you see the difference?  One is a standard (that happened every time) and the other is an evaluative judgment (may or may not happen). 

Now that we understand the difference between rules and preferences how does it relate to oncall software?  As I stated above, most prospects come to us with a list of what they consider rules.  They consider them rules because when you are using something such as Excel to create and maintain your call schedule, it (Excel) will allow you to put whatever text you want in the cell.  Although you may call it a rule, unless it happens every time it is a preference.  For example, in Excel 2+2 will always equal 4.  Always. 

Examples of Rules:

  1. If Doctor "A" is oncall Friday, then he is also oncall Saturday and Sunday.
  2. If Doctor does not have "Ob/Gyn" skill than he will require a back-up
  3. If Doctor works oncall Saturday and Sunday then he is off-call for 7 days.

Examples of Preferences:

  1. Dr. Smith prefers to work oncall on Mondays
  2. Dr. Green prefers to work with Dr. Brown oncall Fridays
  3. If I am doing Outreach of Thursday I would prefer not to be oncall on Friday.

As call schedule creators continue to migrate away from Excel into other oncall scheduling specific software they will need to convince their providers to become more aware of the difference. 

What the big deal, right?  Well the big deal is that most computer programs are programmed a certain way.  Most of the call scheduling software that exists today is rule based and will not accommodate preferences.  Your providers will need to decide between automation and accommodation.  The more you accommodate every one of your partners specific needs, you will be sacrificing automation.  whether this will be acceptable or not will be determined by the power and position of the person creating the schedule. 

The long and short of it is that if you are looking for a low cost, easy system, ditch the preferences and focus on the rules.  If you have a lot of money to spend and time I suggest customizing a solution or purchase an existing one and wait hours while it runs.  The choice is yours.

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