Efficiency has never been more accessible since the boom of technology. Time management apps and software have streamlined personal and business lives. Google calendar sends reminders about important events, Smartphones can be programmed to sound an alarm, and messages are delivered when a previously desired appointment opens up.
There’s time management software for every industry and perhaps, the most important among those industries is the healthcare industry. Improving visibility, accountability, and accessibility is in the best interest of hospital staff, doctors, administrators, and having an operating room scheduling software will do just that.
The majority of hospitals operate on a block scheduling system managed through a committee, often influenced by politics and seniority. Surgeons don’t always know if a time outside of their scheduled block becomes available for additional cases. Some surgeons don’t even have a scheduled block time and they’re often subjected to a series of back and forth calls between their clinic and the OR schedulers. In other words, without operating room scheduling optimization, hospitals are increasing, albeit often unknowingly, wasteful.
Operating room scheduling optimization can take otherwise unused blocks of a surgeon’s time and turn that into efficient use of everyone’s time, filling operating rooms that would otherwise be empty. The software aims to schedule surgeries during what is known as prime time, which is to say during business hours.
This helps cut overhead because hospitals are aptly staffed during prime time and working outside of normal business hours often leads to overtime costs. How an OR is scheduled can literally make or break a hospital’s financials since surgeries are where the influx of money comes from. Digitizing the workflow also improves accuracy while fluidly being able to adjust to changing conditions such as the ones brought on by Covid-19.
Not only will the usage of a hospital’s OR time become more efficient, but the visibility into the factors that drive that utilization will become more transparent, thus resulting in a return on investment (ROI).
OR performance reporting can often take weeks to organize and months or, sometimes, even quarters to implement action. Predictive and prescriptive analytics is an important tool for identifying areas that need improvement.
With an operating room scheduling software, not only are these analytics easily accessible in almost real-time, it’s unbiased without negatively impacting a surgeon’s practice. Perioperative leaders are able to make more informed decisions about many aspects of their responsibilities, including allocating OR time that would otherwise be left unused.
“It will allow for very immediate – almost ‘live’ – access to usage data related to my block time in the OR and will let me see if I am effective in using the allotted time,” said Jens-Peter Witt, MD, Associate professor of Neurosurgery-Spine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
In health care, the main burden of patient care is the availability of scarce resources and the operating room is the scarcest. It should come as no surprise that four of the nation’s largest health systems and over 50% of the country’s top-performing hospitals utilize operating room scheduling software.
In one case study featuring Dignity Health, they were able to increase staffed room utilization by 9% while seeing a 153% increase in blocks being released with 21% of those being filled. In addition, 36 hospital locations under the Dignity Health network saw a 14.5% ROI during an eighteen-month span. The full case study and other success stories can be downloaded here.
The bottom line is that hospitals will benefit greatly from unambiguous, digitized scheduling software that will satisfy everyone – hospital personnel and patients alike.