In many health care practices, there is one person - and only one person - who builds the daily and call schedules. Often, that person has been in charge of their medical scheduling for years and is the only one who actually knows how to build the schedules. Typically, they are also the only one who really understands the rules and policies that each schedule must follow.
These are the lone wolves of medical scheduling – and they can put your practice in jeopardy!
The Risks of Lone Wolf Medical Scheduling
While it may seem like there is no alternative other than to rely on one person for your medical scheduling, it actually places your practice on shaky ground in a variety of ways. For instance, consider what happens if your lone wolf …
- Gets sick.
Or they accept employment elsewhere. Or they retire. Eventually, there will come a day when they are no longer able to build the schedules. And, if they have been the only person in charge of your staff scheduling for years, that is an enormous amount of detail and information that now has to be taught to someone else. Worse, the scheduler may not even be accessible to answer questions once they leave.
- Files things in their head.
Your scheduler likely thinks they are organized, but over time, they are sure to find they are keeping a lot of information regarding the schedule build in their head - and nowhere else. That deprives your practice of the documentation it needs for continuity. And, if they are suddenly unable to handle the medical scheduling, important information may be lost permanently.
- Can’t justify their choices.
When medical scheduling is prepared manually by one person, complaints of unfairness commonly arise. The lack of transparency to see, for example, exactly who is getting which call can lead to staff grumbling and resentment. Clarifying the criteria for building schedules is essential to explaining scheduling choices – and improving morale.
- Gets into a rut.
Yes, Excel worked great in 1997 - but what year is it now? The fact is, when only one person is in charge of medical scheduling, it gets very easy to stick with what they know. Learning something new seems daunting, even when new medical scheduling software wouldn’t be difficult to implement. That’s a rut that could cost your health center considerable time and money.
- Has to be a high-level provider.
When only one person understands the schedules, and that person does it manually, it becomes necessary for medical scheduling to be handled only by senior providers. That means your most senior people must devote a large percentage of their time to scheduling, rather than doing clinical work. Moreover, that means you are paying far more per hour to have your schedule built than if an admin-level staff member were doing it.
When You Have to “Go it Alone” with Your Medical Scheduling
Of course, in some situations, you are going to have to stick with lone wolf scheduling. In that case, your best rule of thumb is to get organized. You’ll want to:
- Compile lists of all your scheduling rules and policies.
- Pull together a list of all work shifts, patterns, and call preferences.
- Delineate – and post - how call schedules are assigned.
Medical Scheduling Should be a Team Sport
The ideal solution, though, is to invest in medical scheduling software that can do all this for you. That way all rules and policies can be documented, and staff scheduling and shifts can be called up in reports instantaneously.
Medical scheduling software will also allow you to delegate scheduling tasks to administrative staff, as the system will block assignments that conflict with your rules and policies. This frees up your senior staff to focus on their areas of medical expertise. In addition, the right medical scheduling software will reduce your time spent processing requests, which will make your entire team happier.
So, if you’re in a lone wolf situation, consider the risks you are taking – and find out how the proper medical scheduling software can help.
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