Many organizations have cancelled elective surgeries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision, although necessary to open up capacity and resources, has had a severe effect on the patients still in need of procedures, as well as the hospital’s bottom line. This has left many organizations with an unprecedented backlog of surgeries, leading to several difficult questions that must be addressed before determining the path forward for post-pandemic strategies.
- Should we reallocate our blocks?
An immediate concern that we’ve heard from countless organizations is that they may need to adjust their standard scheduling structure in order to get the backlog cleared. This is obviously a delicate topic and will require alignment across various service lines to effectively tackle the backlog.
- Should we extend our operating hours?
A natural way to create capacity is to simply run your ORs longer than a traditional business day. This does not come without consequence, however. All ORs must be staffed effectively in order to drive increased case volume. Additionally, do you have a roster of surgeons willing to do evening or weekend cases?
- How do we streamline the time requesting process?
Regardless of the strategy implemented, this new and unprecedented environment will be incredibly dynamic. With surgeons, service lines, and practices all jockeying for time, how can hospitals create a fair and transparent system for requesting and scheduling time that isn’t an administrative nightmare for OR schedulers? With so many stakeholders involved, a singular process will be needed, but without wide buy-in, it may not be sustainable.
- Will resources be available?
This pandemic has greatly strained hospital resources, including staff, physical supplies, financial resources, and more. Will your hospital be able to resume normal operations, let alone stretch resources? Anesthesia teams have been on the frontline performing other duties to help care for the sickest of COVID-19 patients, while perioperative nurses have been reassigned or perhaps even furloughed. There are already questions around the availability of PPE and sterile supplies, and how many open beds are on hand?
Our team at Hospital IQ is helping customers navigate these tricky issues today so they are ready to move forward tomorrow. Our technology helps identify allocation opportunities, while our people help strong perioperative leaders address the organizational complexities that come with substantial change.
Hospital IQ solutions will enable hospital leadership to segment their backlog of cancelled or postponed cases to create a line of sight into details (e.g. service, surgeon, procedure, scheduled time, case type) that will allow them to develop the internal guiding tenets into methodologies for case prioritization.
The system will develop the robust analytics and forecasting needed to understand upcoming demand and the staffing levels that will be required weighed against what is available. With those and other predecessor factors smoothed, our Surgeon Access module will then streamline OR time requesting, leading to a transparent and trusted process in which surgeons and their staff can request time that a central OR schedule administrator can review and approve as needed to ensure that hospitals are achieving and sustaining peak optimization.
COVID-19 is an all-consuming issue at the moment, but eventually we will transition out of the peak and toward the end of the curve. Hospitals must begin planning for that change now so no time is lost moving back to normal, even if it’s a new normal for an interim period.
Download our eBook for 7 guiding tenets to operationalizing reopening surgical services during COVID-19.