MDsyncNET Blog

Beware of Free On-Call Scheduling Software

At a time when hospitals must count every penny, the promise of free on-call scheduling software sounds appealing. But, as novelist Kurt Vonnegut famously said, “In this world, you get what you pay for.” This is especially true when it comes to free on-call scheduling software.

That’s because, all too often, offers of free software are anything but. Typically, there’s an initial free trial period, after which further use is contingent upon subscribing to or purchasing the software. While this model is a viable option if you’re trying to determine whether you are going to need Netflix year-round, it’s impractical for facility-wide information technology systems.

The logistics of free software are also cumbersome. Typically, free software must be installed manually and there is limited – if any – technical support. When bugs crop up, users are often limited to consulting the developer’s knowledgebase or relying on user forums to find a solution. Onboarding is typically a DYI proposition, and upkeep is slow.

Free On-Call Scheduling Software is a Poor Use of Staff Time

On-call schedules are complex. For a hospital that currently uses manual processes like pencil-and-paper or spreadsheets, creating and distributing an accurate on-call schedule requires an extraordinary amount of work. A scheduler must gather and integrate information from a variety of sources, including emails, texts, phone calls, and faxes. Physician vacations, illnesses, and continuing education needs must be taken into account, along with the emergency department’s demand for staffing levels.

Collecting all of that information and inputting it into free on-call scheduling software would constitute a significant investment of time. Onboarding physicians and other staff members in order to disseminate the on-call schedules and evaluate their efficacy would exponentially increase the resources dedicated to the “free” software. As 17th century scholar Robert Burton warned, one must not be penny wise and pound foolish. As this example illustrates, all too often, free software is anything but.

Prioritize Value over Price

While the promise of free on-call scheduling software is appealing, hospitals ready to make the leap to on-call automation should invest in researching options rather than hopping onto the free software bandwagon. During the course of their research, facilities should focus on prioritizing value over price.

One way that software can deliver value is through the customer support it offers. For example, look for a developer that has a solid onboarding process, so that all staff members can be trained on and benefit from the system right away. Similarly, a developer should provide both phone and email support to both the facility’s IT team and end users. Finally, the company should deliver ongoing training and support, along with regular communication about software upgrades and new features.

While on-call scheduling may be the cornerstone of needed functionality, some software solutions can do much more. In addition to enabling users to access up-to-date schedules in real time, on-call scheduling software may offer features that enable staff to broadcast email or text messages, ensure that contact directories are accurate, and provide a cloud-based repository for documents and reports. This kind of value can deliver a robust communications solution that begins with on-call schedules and ends with greater physician satisfaction.

MDsyncNET’s On-Call Scheduling software is one of eight modules that boost healthcare communications and physician scheduling. Call 888-506-5061 today to learn how MDsyncNET can help your facility accelerate physician communications.

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