Although each Scheduling Group is unique, many have call schedule software implementation issues in common. The obvious number one item that ties all the pieces together is communication. But what else is there?
Who has the foresight to see the long-term benefits of the Implementation? Who best understands why the current scheduling practice is the way it is? Who can help with buy-in? All Scheduling Groups need support and commitment; the best have a project champion or white knight who has access to all levels of management.
Can your white knight visionary stick with it for the duration of change-over? Is your Administration on-board and represented? Is your vendor a partner, or only a vendor?
Groups with the most successful implementation have a shared understanding of the plan and expectation of what will and will NOT be accomplished. Carefully consider a plan that details what you would like to accomplish, how you will do it, who will do it, and what you will have to learn in order to achieve it.
When will it be done? Chunk it down; you don’t have to do everything at once. Think phases. A lot plenty of time for a change; it always takes longer than first thought. Communicate the Plan!
Success will be judged on how well you stick to your perceived promises. Clearly layout goals and expectations. To whom are they reasonable? Detail rules and how those rules will be supported and enforced. Discuss rules/patterns and tallies that make On-Call less onerous and why. If you don’t define success, how will you know if you achieved it?
Make a commitment of time and resources in order to be successful. Be decisive and make sure to allocate your Scheduler enough time for training and learning, including “headspace”. Everyone is always busy, but don’t let a slow-down derail the project. Keep it a priority. If you keep moving your go-live date further into the future, you risk losing momentum and creating delays.
Support your scheduler to enforce new process and agreed-upon rules, especially if the scheduler is a non-physician. Old habits can die hard. Who will be the sheriff?
Retraining is much easier if that person isn’t coming in cold. Providers lose trust if the calendar isn’t always accurate. Consider review-training for your backup person as an investment.
Be extra-available to help with questions as Providers are learning. While there are many reasons Providers might resist change, sometimes overcoming it is as simple as being available for a quick question. Show them what they can use right away. For example, completely web-based calendars are easy to view and use at any time.
Providers will increase participation over time if they receive immediate benefits. A phased Implementation allows this. Once Providers are looking/using the calendars, remind them of other benefits such as Provider Requests and iCal links for their SmartPhone and iPad.
Encourage the “techie” doctor to show his peers! Sometimes healthy competition is a fun thing (iCal links). Encourage your Scheduler’s ability to handle new users and become the local, confident expert. Providers can always call the vendor, but many prefer to simply ask locally.
Without enough training, software becomes a disposable tool. With proper training, software becomes an investment that delivers a positive return over time. Let your vendor be a Partner. Make time for staff to utilize the trainer’s experience with Call Scheduling and the software. Take advantage of any on-going software review so the scheduler remains up-to-date on all the features, even those you may not be using right away.
Change can be difficult and it could be easy to slip back into what is familiar. Remind Providers of the benefits, and encourage early adopters to spread the word. Go with the areas that are ready for change now, keep it rolling for a positive example for others in the group. Enforce change where necessary.
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