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The benefits of improved hospital and clinic scheduling workflows | Viewpoint


Hospitals can benefit from additional revenue and increased capability. Surgeons can perform more cases and nurses can have more consistent schedules.

As surgical procedures become more complex with new tools and technology, surgeons and perioperative staff are increasingly expected to manage complicated workflows and larger workloads.

Aileen Killen (Photo by LiveData)

Aileen Killen (Photo by LiveData)

Hospitals have the opportunity to optimize surgical scheduling and empower surgeons with a balanced workflow to help them use their block time more efficiently.

In turn, improved scheduling workflows solve workload bottlenecks in a way that can advance safety, accuracy, and time efficiency for surgeons, nurses, the schedulers, and patients. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages.

Starting with the utilization of real-time access to the hospital’s surgical scheduling system, clinic schedulers can unlock hidden opportunities to accommodate their surgeons’ need for more operating room time outside their assigned block. By efficiently managing their time and resources, surgeons expand their business and generate more revenue for their practice and the hospital. A balanced workload plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of surgery.

From a day-to-day perspective, clinic and hospital schedulers may benefit the most from improved scheduling workflows. Most surgeon practices lack visibility of the hospital’s central scheduling system, especially OR time that has been released by another surgeon.

When requesting time for their surgeons, clinic and hospital schedulers typically make multiple phone calls, trade faxes, and otherwise do an elaborate “dance” to find time on the surgical calendar. With improved scheduling workflows leveraging real-time access, clinic schedulers can see available slots in real time and shorten the time-consuming negotiations with the hospital scheduler.

And it works both ways; hospital schedulers no longer have to field call after call inquiring about time the clinic scheduler has no way of knowing is available. It’s a win-win for everyone on the time efficiency front.

Streamlined scheduling workflows also have a positive impact on the lives of nurses and staff. With a more efficient and optimized system in place, nurses enjoy a more accurate, consistent daily schedule, both in terms of procedure scheduling and their work schedules. Simply put, a smoother and more manageable day for your nurses ensures a better work-life balance.

By reducing the uncertainty and unpredictability around the surgical schedule, nurse satisfaction remains high. A more stable and motivated nursing workforce positively impacts patient care and outcomes.

And that leads me to patients. Improving patient care is the ultimate goal; they also benefit from streamlined scheduling workflows. Leveraging real-time insights ensures that patients receive care more promptly, without having to wait for OR block time to become available.

In the past, patients often faced delays in their treatment plans because of the limited availability of the surgeon’s block time. However, by integrating innovative scheduling workflows, hospitals uncover underutilized time in which to add cases. Patients receive the care they need in a more timely manner and enjoy an overall more positive patient experience.

Solving surgical workflow issues provides numerous benefits. Surgeons perform more cases outside of their assigned block. Nurses enjoy the advantages of a consistent daily schedule. Schedulers both at the hospital and in the surgeon’s office enjoy more effective and efficient communication.

Finally, hospitals benefit from additional revenue and increased capability to accommodate rising case volumes — all while improving patient access and the overall patient experience.

Aileen Killen is director of perioperative operational excellence for LiveData.

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