updates is a difficult task, especially considering many of these people work outside of the facility.”

Getting it right requires taking a multi- pronged approach fueled with smart people, processes and technology. And while advanced technologies are available to mitigate challenges and support sched- uling tasks, some departments still rely on inefficient, antiquated tools and methods to schedule cases. “It is usually a fatal com- bination of technological backwardness and improvised, sometimes haphazard, processes,” suggested Justin Rockman, Vice President, Sales and Development, Surgimate. “The irony is that in the U.S., the world’s most advanced surgeries rely on the least-advanced back-offices. We’re talking about an industry that still consid- ers the fax machine a daily workhorse! Not once have we encountered cutting-edge practices still using typewriters and couri- ers to shuttle paperwork between facilities. They’re decades behind the curve when it comes to real-time communications, cloud-based applications, and digital col- laboration tools.

“Surgeries have become hugely complex events, with up to 50 individuals involved in a single surgery. These stakeholders experience major challenges sharing pa- tient data as there is no interoperability between systems,” Rockman added. “Even though groups are entering information into digital systems, sharing that informa- tion still means generating mountains of paperwork.”

It would seem unrealistic then — even risky — for a surgical department to con- tinue storing case-related data in separate silos and using error-prone methods to disseminate it.

For those who are ready to invest in an upgrade, plenty of sound solutions exist.

The cloud with the silver lining Among the surgical teams that have ad- opted advanced OR scheduling software, most will choose a cloud- based structure — and for good reason, accord- ing to suppliers and end- users. Unlike traditional phone, fax and text deliv- ery, methods that are still in use at many hospitals, cloud-based scheduling systems collect all in- puts and simultaneously deliver up-to-date com- munications to everyone involved in a surgical case, provide robust pre- dictive analytics, and

other useful components that can help facilities discover opportunities for sub- stantial growth and savings.

“Similar to a project management tool, a cloud-based surgery coordination system simplifies tasks by providing an at-a-glance view of where a patient is at each step of the case, from scheduling all the way through discharge,” explained Fabian, Casetabs. “These systems allow case teams to be easily added, enabling communication and coordination to ensue around the case. Phone, fax and text updates are replace by automated alerts sent to every person involved in the case, including vendor reps, each time an update or request is made which ensures everyone remains current on case details. When using a cloud-based system, information is easily accessible to those who need it, regardless of location, either through a laptop or mobile device such as an iPhone or Android.” Casetabs tested their scheduling tech- nology with participating surgery centers which Fabian says relied on a system that entailed a near-total of 25 touch-points, in- cluding calls, texts, emails and whiteboard updates. The Casetabs system whittled it down to just five touch-points and a central hub that gave everyone involved in the procedure universal access to case information in real time.

“Crown Point Surgery Center is a great example,” said Fabian. “With 450 cases each month, the center’s clinical and busi- ness office teams were spending significant labor hours on surgical case communica- tion and coordination. Simply trying to ascertain where each patient was in the pre-op process was labor intensive and prone to error when relying on traditional manual methods. After implementing Casetabs, Crown Point was able to greatly reduce communication touch points. The result was more than $6,500 in savings per month in labor hours (82 front office hours and 123 nursing hours per month).

The technology also connects physician

offices with surgery centers and hospitals, which in turn increases case load and revenue.

“Buena Vista Surgery Center’s Medi- cal Director, Dr. Raymond Raven, cites a 10 percent increase in case volume since deploying Casetabs,” continued Fabian. “He attributes this increase to the ease of which physician office staff can con- veniently and safely schedule cases at his center. According to Dr. Raven, the center has seen a direct path from cloud- based surgery coordination to increased caseloads.” Sanjeev Agrawal, President and Chief Marketing Officer, LeanTaaS, says seam- less surgical scheduling means employing technology that will deliver a marked improvement to existing workflows. “It’s one of optimized scheduling through predictive analytics, which technologies like mobile, cloud and machine learning make possible,” Agrawal said. “Identify and make available block inventory to surgeons and clinic schedulers needing block time. Let them easily discover and request/release blocks with a single click on their mobile device. Eliminate the need for phone calls, emails and faxes. Monitor booking patterns to identify blocks that are likely to be underutilized.” Agrawal says UCHealth implemented

the LeanTaaS system and was able to increase overall financial performance by more than $450,000 per OR per year. “Average aggregate block utilization is up by over 4 percent; 11 new surgeons have been hired into the system despite a lack of permanent block time for them,” he said. “Release lead times have lengthened to almost 27 days, allowing more surgeons access to the OR more often. Block al- location is a fairer and more data-driven process. Surgeons and administrators have more trust in the data upon which block allocation decisions are made.”

LeanTaaS scheduling software

Page 22 • HEALTHCARE PURCHASING NEWS • April 2018 21

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