How a leading AMC unleashed perioperative growth using AI & automation

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Health systems struggle with scheduling operating room time efficiently.

Surgeons are not motivated to release unused time early, leaving schedulers scrambling to fill last-minute openings to recoup revenue. As a result, a significant amount of OR time goes unused. 

During a Becker's Hospital Review webinar held in December and sponsored by Qventus, David Atashroo, MD, director of perioperative solutions, and Anthony Moorman, director of solution marketing, both at Qventus, discussed how artificial intelligence and machine learning can optimize OR scheduling. Tammy Jones, PhD, RN, NE-BC, chief perioperative officer at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), shared her experience with the Qventus Perioperative Solution at UAMS. 

Three key takeaways were:  

1.) Manual scheduling processes waste valuable OR time, put pressure on schedulers, and hamper surgical case growth. "OR time is locked up as a result of current manual tools," Mr. Moorman said. "Surgeons with block time often underutilize it but have no easy mechanism to give that time back." In fact, 30 percent of OR time at health systems across the country goes unused. Scheduling teams are constantly under pressure to fill open times that are often released at the last minute. As a result, "those time slots are often filled with low-value, first-come-first-served cases, which may not be aligned with the health system’s strategic goals," he said. 

This was the case at UAMS. "We’ve historically had a very short auto-release window, which put a lot of pressure on our teams to fill released time," Dr. Jones said. “The significant amount of back and forth and manual work made it difficult to deliver on the outcomes we wanted.” 

2.) Machine learning can identify OR time unlikely to be used and then automatically offer that time to the best-fit surgeons and their schedulers. Qventus' machine learning algorithm predicts when a surgeon might have time they won't use and leverages behavioral science to encourage surgeons and their schedulers to release the time. “That incentive is a piece of the puzzle that is so important -- they need to know what’s in it for them if they release it. They also see that in turn, they'll be offered more time later. So it's a win-win for them,” Dr. Jones said.

The next step is to strategically fill those open slots. "Using machine learning, Qventus predicts which surgeons are the best fit for that newly available time based on expected availability and the site's strategic goals, and then it automatically offers time to the next best match surgeon until the slot is filled," Dr. Atashroo said. 

In addition, TimeFinder enables surgeons and schedulers to request OR time directly -- without logging in to the EHR. Dr. Jones added that “for places like UAMS that really struggle with capacity, TimeFinder helps surgeons and their teams with that feeling of helplessness they often get when they feel they're at the mercy of a scheduler to find them time. TimeFinder gives them a sense of control and helps remove a lot of uncertainty.”

Qventus also gives perioperative leaders and surgeons real-time, transparent data about their operational efficiency. Surgeons receive curated, real-time insights that help them understand their volume, scheduling accuracy, efficiency, and how they compare to peers. Perioperative leaders also gain actionable insights to help them identify coaching opportunities and reward their teams for strong performance.  

3.) Leading health systems like UAMS have grown case volumes and achieved significant efficiency improvements despite staffing challenges. In the first eight months since deploying the Qventus Perioperative Solution, UAMS added 6.5 days of lead time to their standard auto-release as well as over 316 surgical cases, translating to a $1.2 million margin increase on an annualized basis. “With this partnership, we’ve been able to capitalize on the work we've done over the years, and Qventus has helped us raise the bar to the next level,” Dr. Jones said. 

As a strategic partner for health systems, Qventus continuously adds new innovations to their solutions to help health systems unlock even more value from the real-time automation platform. Next, the company is leveraging a national longitudinal claims dataset to enable health systems to more easily identify growth opportunities in their market based on referral patterns and automate targeted outreach.

To learn more about the Qventus Perioperative Solution, visit www.qventus.com/perioperative or watch the webinar at www.qventus.com/webinar-unleashing-perioperative-growth/.

To register for upcoming webinars, click here.

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