Scheduling is starting to become a great example when I talk to others about what is wrong with the current mainstream healthcare IT market. In short, the mainstream vendors are trying to do everything, and ending up with sub-optimal solutions across the board. Luckily for them, most clients are either unaware or choose to overlook the grotesque in the IT solutions presented. Which is why, I think the future is niche. Focused solutions that do a fantastic job at a subset of the myriad jumble called healthcare will be the next generation. Scheduling, is one such focus.
Some good examples already exist, albeit with slight variations on how/what they approach in healthcare scheduling. MyHealthDirect, ZocDoc, Zeel, YourNurseIsOn, InQuicker come to mind. Add Lightning Bolt to the lineup (the complete list is here). Founded in 2002 by a scientist working on scheduling supercomputer tasks, Lightning Bolt provides medical staff scheduling solutions to create, manage, request, report and communicate staff schedules.
I’ve not used their solutions, so unable to do a deep examination. But two things stood out for me. First, they position tailored solutions to certain clinical domains like radiology, hospitalist, etc. That is nice, because I do believe that the challenges and complexities of scheduling in one clinical domain (like anesthesiology) may be different enough from another (say, something like Emergency Medicine) to warrant a different user experience. The underlying technical platform can of course be common. Second, I like the subscription-based pricing model. It’s common in the SaaS world, but most healthcare IT vendor ecosystem is still mired in license mentality.
It’s encouraging to see more entrants in the scheduling arena. What worries me is that niche solutions need to find enough scale to be viable long-term. Like it or not, the checks in enterprise healthcare IT are still written to stolid incumbents. Partly because these incumbents continuously claim to be a one-stop-shop (simpler for the client CIO, CFO)… which brings me to the point I started this post with (that they try to do a lot, and end up sucking at most of it).
So how does a new entrant, which does a singular-but-key workflow, find it’s place in the established ecosystem? I wish I knew. Regardless, an upstart like this will surely claim the crown for healthcare scheduling one day.