How Saint Luke’s maximizes OR utilization and surgical case growth using automation

Operational waste is a massive problem in healthcare.

In the perioperative setting, this commonly occurs when ORs "leave unused time on the table" because of inefficient and suboptimal scheduling, leading to delays in care, dissatisfied surgeons and teams and ultimately significant loss of revenue.

During a May Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by Qventus, Jane Peck, COO and vice president of clinical service lines at Saint Luke's Hospital (Kansas City, Mo.), and David Atashroo, MD, managing director of perioperative solutions at Qventus, discussed how providers can optimize resources, improve OR utilization and grow surgical case volume using AI-powered automation software.

Three takeaways were:

1.) Automation offers a sustainable approach to simplifying OR access and increasing surgical case volumes. Saint Luke’s deployed the Qventus Perioperative Solution which uses AI, machine learning, and behavioral science to automate key OR scheduling processes.

Using a web-based reservation system, surgeons and their schedulers can see all available surgical slots in seconds — without logging into the EHR. And to make scheduling OR time even easier, when OR time becomes available, machine learning automatically offers the perfect fit slot directly to surgeons.

To increase OR time, AI predicts unused blocks up to 30+ days in advance. Then, it applies behavioral science principles to engage surgeons and schedulers to incentivize proactive release.

Less than a year into its partnership with Qventus, Saint Luke's has seen an impact of more than 220 hours of early released block utilized and an eight-day increase in average lead time on released blocks. "As engagement has increased across all of the surgical stakeholders, this is driving a great return on our investment," Ms. Peck said.

2.) Automation can help increase surgical volume and revenue despite staffing shortages. Like many health systems across the country, Saint Luke’s has experienced severe staffing shortages. But despite having to close ORs, the hospital actually saw an uptick in growth because of the efficiencies from automation.

“When we first ran into staffing shortages, we had to make the tough decision to reduce our ORs. We expected that we wouldn't meet our targeted volumes, but they did not go down — and our revenue was actually higher!” said Ms. Peck. “The optimization we achieve with Qventus has allowed us to grow our volume without increasing our ORs. This is actually something that is repeated now on a regular basis. It's just incredible to think that we are able to continue to grow our volumes without even opening up those additional rooms.”

3.) Automation improves satisfaction for surgeons, anesthesia, and schedulers. By reducing the friction and complexity in OR scheduling processes, stakeholders across the perioperative enterprise benefit on a daily basis.

“I don't have a single surgeon coming to me asking me to open rooms — yet many surgeons are doing more cases beyond their block allocations,” said Ms. Peck. “Even our director of anesthesiology — who is all about optimization of resources and first had some doubts — told me that this system is actually working.”

A lot of the “magic” from automation occurs behind-the-scenes. Surgeon schedulers and OR schedulers have self-serve tools that streamline communication, so cases are scheduled in a timely, easier and more accurate manner.

To learn more about the Qventus Perioperative Solution, click here. Or, to watch the webinar recording, click here.

To register for upcoming webinars, click here.

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