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

Where the Heck is the Middle Solution in Scheduling Software?

Posted by Justin Wampach on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 @ 10:33 AM

best buyIn a $116 million dollar per year market that is expected to reach $330 million by 2025, there does not seem to be a lot of middle ground in terms of price.  When researching software solutions that cater specifically to scheduling physicians for both office shifts and on-call, there appears to be a large player on the low end charging a few hundred dollars per year, and two larger companies on the higher end, charging tens-of-thousands of dollars per year.  Call Scheduler’s really the only solution in the middle. 

Midsized hospitals and clinics throughout the US and Canada need a physician software scheduling solution that is sophisticated but not costly, and easy to implement and maintain.  These healthcare organizations need a vendor who truly understands and supports their business objectives for technology, and who provide right-fit solutions. 

Why would medical groups want to spend more on software and features they don’t need?  Many would argue that some vendors have done a better job than others in convincing physicians and administrators that they must have tools that are well beyond their needs.  This is a classic case of “nice-to-haves” versus “need-to have”. 

Almost all medical groups that are switching from Excel or paper to automated, rules-based scheduling software will have a relatively small set of very specific tools needed to make the user experience positive.  These tools typically revolve around day-off/vacation requests, creating schedules and communicating the schedule.

Large enterprise vendors will often gloss over what they consider are very “basic” features and spend more time showing potential users many bells and whistles that you will certainly not use within the first few years of switching from Excel.  Clinic administrators and physicians sometimes underestimate just how difficult perfecting just those basics will be.  In fact, many medical groups struggle just to get the physicians to use a phone app to request vacations and time off.    

In the past several years we have heard of more “fear, uncertainty and doubt” being used by our competitors when talking to prospects comparing Call Scheduler to their offering.  Fear, uncertainty and doubt (often shortened to FUD) is a disinformation strategy used in sales and marketing.  It is a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information in an effort to appeal to fear.  From a psychological perspective this tactic is quite effective but unfortunately leads to over spending by buying way more than the prospect needs. 

For some reason as buyers we fall for the FUD trap.  Many of us seem to have a fear of missing out on something or assuming that just because something is more expensive, it’s better.  We also sometimes tend to oversimplify just how difficult change may be to implement within our organization.  I think the other thing some small and medium sized practices do is to forget how different they are from large and mega sized organizations.  Does a medium sized community hospital need the same feature set as a large healthcare system?  Maybe?  Probably not.

It’s funny, in some calls we talk to prospects who tell us they are going to use a top down management strategy when implementing new systems that involve key users such as physicians.  They say, “this is the way it will be” and that is the way it is.  In small and medium sized groups, we tend to see that physicians still have ultimate control and decision-making authority.  It’s not always what’s best for our clinics business, but what’s best and simplest for the doctors.  Physicians tend to be vulnerable to the message that more expensive means better.  The reason I point this out is that while some companies are selling you on the “nice to have’s” your focus should really be on your plan to fully utilize the most basic set of tools first, and that usually takes some time to not only learn but also time to become ingrained into the culture of your group. 

Money doesn’t grow on trees and buying the right sized tool to transition from Excel to scheduling software makes you a savvy business person and an informed buyer.

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