We spend a lot of time building WordPress websites, but sometimes we have the opportunity to build awesome web applications for our clients too. We have been in the #WomenWhoCode game for more than 10 years, and we love to come up with new ideas to help solve problems our clients might have and make their lives a little easier.
Kansas Imaging Consultants recently came to us because they were using a web application to manage the scheduling for their doctors, but it was costing them a large annual licensing fee and it didn’t always work the way they needed it to. Since it was a pre-packaged solution, there was no room for customization or improvement beyond what the developers were willing to do.
We brainstormed and came up with our own web-based solution that meets their scheduling needs and can be completely customized based on what they want. The best part: beyond the initial development and support costs, there is no annual license fee.
They are launching the new Doctor Scheduler we implemented for them this week, and we couldn’t be more excited!
What does it do?
This application is a basic tool that allows an administrator to log in and create schedules for the organization’s various doctors. They have multiple locations they need to staff throughout the week and several doctors that can go, so they need a tool that allows them to assign a doctor to a location and keep track of it.
We wanted to give them an interface they would recognize, so the schedule creation screen looks very much like an Excel spreadsheet that can be edited directly in the browser. Clicking on a cell automatically brings up a list of either available staff or locations (depending on which view they are using) that can be assigned on a any given day.
Each week, the doctors can log in and see where they need to be as well as where everyone else will be and print their schedules. The actual schedule can be sorted by staff or location and viewed by week, month or day.
We didn’t want to add a lot of confusing features that would clutter the system, especially if they didn’t need them, so we tried to keep everything as simple as possible. What the user sees is very basic and easy to navigate.
How does it work?
To avoid the need to charge licensing fees, we built all of this from scratch using open source technology. We started with the CakePHP framework – an object-oriented PHP framework that cuts repetitive development time by including a lot of commonly used PHP and MySQL database functions. Once that was in place, we were able to build the technology we needed on top of it.
Several notes, sketches and flowcharts later, the basic functionality started coming together. Once the programming was ready to go and doing what it needed to do, we needed to make things look a little prettier.
Kelsey, our graphic designer, put together a basic mock up for the user interface we could implement and with the help of a little jQuery magic, we were able to add in extra features like the spreadsheet view and AJAX-based saving to make the front end a little quicker and easier to use.
In the end, the whole project came together very quickly, and we had a lot of fun working to make scheduling a little easier for Kansas Imaging Consultants. It turned out so well, we are ready to help other health care professionals manage their schedules with a similar tool. If you are part of a medical practice that could use a little help with your scheduling process, we would love to create a custom solution or implement our Doctor Scheduler tool for you.