Who Is Your On-Call Infectious Disease Physician?

In light of the current Ebola issues, and previous brushes with SARS, H1N1, Anthrax, and MRSA concerns, shouldn’t your Group consider having a designated Infectious Disease physician on-call? What would it take to assemble an ID schedule if you had to?

Do you know who the individual Infectious Disease specialist is vs a general Internal Medicine number to “dial and pray”?

How long would it take you to find out who the appropriate individual doctor is?
Will you need to share the Infectious Disease on-call duty with another Internal Medicine Group? If so, what percentage of the coverage is yours? How do you know you are scheduled fairly and appropriately?

How easy is it to create an On-Call Infectious Disease schedule if you don’t have one now? Is it easy to communicate the results accurately to all the parties who need convenient access to the information? Did you know:

    1. If you already have on-line software such as Call Scheduler, creating an Infectious Disease schedule could be as simple as adding a job assignment called “Infectious Disease on-call” and populating it according to physician qualifications and your Group’s rules. Software also can easily work around vacation time and other factors to be sure the correct person is scheduled.
    2. No matter how it is created, having an on-line schedule with a single line item “Infectious Disease” makes it abundantly clear to harried Emergency Department personnel, “who do we call NOW!”
    3. If you need to share the Infectious Disease on-call duty with another Group, or Groups… software can help you figure out your Group’s share (percent load) as well as what your fair-share pattern of call looks like. This pattern shows “you” vs “them” coverage, so you know when you need to assign your providers. Such a scheduled pattern can also be viewed by your Partner-Groups, so they also know when it is their turn “up to bat”.
    4. EMTALA regulations specify that you cannot simply list a general phone number for the other Group that is covering for you. The schedule needs to show the individual physician responsible for coverage. How can this be accomplished when you are not the scheduler for your Partner-Groups? Simply use a custom merged-view schedule that shows only who is on-call from each of the various Groups covering Infectious Disease on-call. The visual effect is a unified schedule that after-hours staff, ED, your Providers, and your Partner-Groups can use on-line at any time. The practical effect is that each Group can have and maintain their own schedule without interfering with any of the others!

What would shared on-call calendars look like? Take a look at the examples below.

Example 1: Two Partner-Groups are using a 40/60 percent shared pattern below. Clinic ABC and Clinic XYZ each see when they should be scheduling someone to cover their part of the shared infectious disease call schedule. These patterns are used internally by Partner Clinics. Of course, such a pattern could be used for scheduling any shared on-call specialty, for example, shared Trauma Surgery coverage.

Example 2: The two Partner-Groups have filled their slots in the “pattern” above, resulting in the on-line “published” schedule below. As each scheduler from each Group completes their own individual calendar, using their individual access, the shared Infectious Disease On-Call calendar fills and the results can be seen online by authorized persons such as the Hospital Emergency Department, Clinics ABC, and XYZ personnel and their scheduled providers. Of course, the calendars also contain a footer showing appropriate legion information.

With merged on-line views, there are no unauthorized updates or access to an individual schedule. No more dial and pray. And a lot less drama, drama, drama.

Key Takeaway:

Ebola today, what next tomorrow? Using a Shared on-call schedule for shared coverage saves precious communication time. Being proactive is key.


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