Automating care operations: How intelligent solutions can increase surgical volume and improve length of stay without adding resources

Many healthcare organizations have been using automation in their back office to streamline revenue cycle and other administrative functions.

An increasing number of those organizations are now looking to bring automation to care operations.

During Becker's 10th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable, in a session sponsored by Qventus, three experts on automation in healthcare discussed opportunities for health systems to automate care processes and the benefits of such initiatives. Panelists were:

  • Imran Andrabi, MD, president & CEO, ThedaCare
  • David Bueno, PhD, partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Mudit Garg, MBA, co-founder & CEO, Qventus

Four key insights were:

1.) Care operations is the massive set of operational activities that sit between back-office administrative tasks and frontline clinical decisions. Care operations include all processes that surround the delivery of patient care, such as patient access, patient flow, care coordination and OR case scheduling. Successfully automating these processes requires unique capabilities, such as getting the clinical context right (which depends on ingesting and making sense of large volumes of patient-level EHR data), probabilistically mirroring clinical judgment and triggering different levels of automation based on those inputs.

Mr. Garg explained that automating care operations requires an approach that "isn't always machine-led automation, but is an automation set of spectrums where the human is often in the loop, [combined with behavioral science aspects of] human-governed automation where you're nudging the human how to act."

2.) There is a better way than waiting for EHR vendors to automate operations. Many organizations depend on their EHR vendors to make care workflows more efficient, but EHRs are not the right tool for creating automated operational nudges.

"At ThedaCare, we want to enable our people to work at the top of their license by giving them next-level nudges and information such that they can make the right decisions to take care of people in the best possible way,” said Dr. Andrabi.

ThedaCare is not alone in upgrading its operations using new automation capabilities that extend the value of their EHR. In a new survey conducted by The Health Management Academy, 95% of healthcare systems are looking to automate operating room processes more and rely less on manual processes.

“It’s all about your value capture agenda – not just operational and financial performance, but patient experience and outcomes as well. Rather than letting someone else dictate the roadmap of the value that you're going after, you want to set your own agenda," Dr. Bueno said.

3.) Behavioral science-driven automation can drive surgical case growth. Managing surgical case volume, including case scheduling and OR block utilization, is currently done through manual processes that are time-consuming for staff and have opportunity costs for organizations. "The OR is held together by duct tape and fax paper," Mr. Garg said, highlighting the extreme inefficiencies that characterize this category of care operations.

Qventus's technology addresses this challenge by considering surgeons' practice patterns and past performance to:

  • Predict up to a month in advance reserved OR blocks that are unlikely to get used
  • Automate nudges to surgeons and their schedulers and use behavioral science principles to encourage them to proactively release those blocks
  • Personalize how newly available OR time is then allotted and cases strategically scheduled

This approach has enabled organizations that partner with Qventus to increase surgical case volume without increasing capacity. They have unlocked hundreds of hours of OR time per month that would have gone unused by releasing 30 percent of OR time up to 30 days in advance that previously would have gotten released only about seven days prior to surgery.

4.) Care automation can also address length of stay and improve early discharge planning. Another longstanding challenge Qventus's solution helps tackle is length of stay, which contributes to 37 million days of operational waste across the country, Mr. Garg said.

By estimating the appropriate length of stay for any patient on day one of their hospital admission, Qventus empowers care teams to optimize planning for the rest of the processes associated with that patient's care and to remove any potential barriers that may stand in the way of post-acute care, thereby also reducing the odds and cost of readmissions.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars