Ask yourself, would you frequent a mechanic that doesn't know how much his parts cost?
That's the analogy Bloomberg Business Week used regarding a study of orthopedic surgeons and their knowledge of medical device costs.
Of course, in the case of such a mechanic, we would not be surprised to find out that their costs were soaring and that they were struggling to rein them in.
If you're in the healthcare field, that situation might sound oddly familiar.
Needless to say, it is not the fault of individual doctors that healthcare pricing is so obscure (and, certainly, no one wants medical devices chosen solely on the basis of cost), yet it does indicate the presence of business practices that are making it harder to control soaring healthcare costs.
After all, if nobody knows what something costs, that cost will be hard to contain.
How much does it cost to build your call schedules?
Just like medical device costs, operating costs - like building call schedules for doctors and nurses - need to be known in order to be controlled.
Yet, most medical practices look at only one factor to determine the cost of building their schedules - the cost of whatever program they use to build them.
In many cases, the "program" being used is Excel, which is hardly an additional expense, as it is commonly part of a practice's basic computer software.
Unfortunately, for too many medical practices, that's where the cost tracking stops.
If the costs were followed more precisely, it would soon become clear that relying on a spreadsheet to build call schedules has a lot of hidden costs.
For instance, a simple spreadsheet cannot remember all the rules and policies of a practice, which leads to senior providers having to build the schedules. Of course, it will come as no surprise that senior providers have a higher salary than administrative personnel - which means that building call schedules from a spreadsheet has an enormous human resources cost.
This is made worse when the length of time it takes to build each schedule is factored into the equation, as building schedules from a spreadsheet is more time-consuming than using call schedule software.
Call scheduling affects the rest of your budget, too.
By not tracking all the costs involved, medical practices pay too much to build their call schedules. In fact, ask yourself this … "What effort (cost) do we expend to make and approve requests like CME and vacation?"
Too often, medical practices fail to see the impact of their scheduling choices - just like a mechanic who doesn't know how much parts are costing him.
So, the next time you are reviewing your budget, dig a little deeper into the costs arising from building your schedules.
It might be time to give them an oil change.