Allocating the appropriate number and type of staff to surgical operating rooms can be challenging. To avoid understaffing and creating an unsafe environment, some hospitals tolerate significant amounts of idle time by staffing to historical peaks instead of surgical demand, often with an additional buffer to account for sick time and other paid time off.

On-Demand Webinar: Increase Surgeon Engagement and OR Efficiency

There are multiple factors that contribute to the challenge of matching staff to surgical demand, including:

  • Block schedule variations: Time is reserved for different types of surgeries by day of week and week of month, contributing to variations in the number and type of staff required on (e.g., first and third Mondays vs. second and fourth Mondays. To cover all the Mondays, “fluff” is needed in the staffing plan.
  • Staff specialty variations: Different surgical cases require different staff qualifications and staffing levels, making it difficult to ensure all specialties are covered without retaining more staff than are actually needed at any given time.
  • Staff shift preferences: For hospitals that use staff self-scheduling (sometimes called “selfish scheduling”), certain shift lengths and days of week are more popular than others. This requires staffing managers to manually move less-senior staff from their preferred shifts to fill in the entire schedule.

Most hospitals employ a mix of “guesstimation” based on experience and unsophisticated analysis to manually generate shift grids and assignment schedules, leading to mismatches between proposed and actual staffing requirements. This includes both idle time (more staff present than needed) and overtime (fewer staff present than needed), resulting in delays and/or additional costs.

Fortunately, trusted analytics are playing a new and increased role in solving the perioperative staffing dilemma — helping to cut costs while still ensuring an outstanding level of patient care. Hospital IQ’s Perioperative staffing solution minimizes periop staffing issues by optimizing grids and schedules based on historical demand patterns and actual demand. With highly customizable inputs including available shift lengths, available start times, and staff roles/qualifications/seniority, our staffing solution leverages sophisticated algorithms to generate staffing grids and automated assignments that match shifts (supply) to surgeries (demand).

Operating rooms are one of a hospital’s most lucrative areas. Applying analytics to the perioperative staffing puzzle helps minimize idle time, overtime, and cost while retaining staffing levels that help ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.

Check out our on-demand webinar “Increase Surgeon Engagement and OR Efficiency” for more on this topic.

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