Physician On-Call Schedules: Moving from Manual to Automated Processes
The digitization of healthcare was slow out of the gate, but was spurred on by 2009’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The HITECH Act financially incentivized the “meaningful use” of technology in the healthcare setting, which encompassed everything from electronic health records to electronic prescribing.
While facilities were galloping toward adopting interoperable technology for the exam room, hospital ward, and pharmacy, they were less eager to adopt technologies designed to streamline administrative processes. For example, at some hospitals, physician on-call schedules continue to be a pencil-and-paper endeavor. At others, administrative staff assembles physician on-call schedules in a spreadsheet.
To be clear, a spreadsheet is a step in the right direction, but it’s not automation. Spreadsheets are, however, prone to error and obsolescence. Typically, the spreadsheet method requires staff to collect emails, voicemail messages, and text messages about scheduling needs and preferences, and then to enter the information into the spreadsheet. Once the spreadsheet is completed, the distribution process commences. Schedules are usually disseminated through a variety of methods, such as email, faxing, and printing and posting.
Even if physician on-call schedule distribution is done exclusively by email, that still doesn’t count as automation. The person emailing the list types in the names or copies and pastes a recipient list and then sends out the schedule. But what happens when – as is inevitable – the schedule changes? The staff person must update the spreadsheet and email it out again. Chances are good that some recipients won’t consult the latest in a stream of updated schedules and will instead work from an outdated version.
In order for physician on-call schedules to truly be automated, they need to move beyond 20th century spreadsheets. Today, automation involves leveraging cloud computing – where software is accessed via the internet – to provide real-time schedules that are accessible 24/7/365. True automation allows administrative staff to make changes as needed and forego the distribution process altogether. Instead, authorized users are able to view the correct, up-to-the-minute schedule from any internet-connected device from within or outside of the facility.
While the healthcare industry has embraced patient-related digitization, it’s been slower to adopt physician on-call scheduling automation. Cloud-based scheduling software can solve many of the challenges associated with on-call scheduling, while achieving the economic efficiencies that are critical across today’s healthcare landscape.
MDsyncNET automates physician on-call scheduling and simplifies the process with its cloud-based software. To learn how MDsyncNET can help you streamline your scheduling process, call 888-506-5061 for a free consultation.