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How logic-based solutions drive operational excellence

Among the many lessons highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic is the fact that Operations Management requires insight, visibility and predictability to truly optimize the way we perform in a complex and ever-evolving landscape. But what does Operations Management really mean? Now as much as ever before, our ability to balance resources to demand, predict changes and bottle necks before they happen, and create a digital marketplace for the exchange of insights across the system is the foundation for operations in a post-COVID-19 world.

Before the pandemic hit, every hospital dealt with inefficiencies and juggled unique priorities. But now, continuing to mishandle these inefficiencies could mean the difference between a growing, thriving organization, and one that fails to maximize the potential of its highest revenue-generating service lines. Machine Learning and Predictive AI can help hospitals optimize Operations Management across their health systems. I want to focus on operational excellence in the most expensive square footage of a health system: the perioperative service line. I’ll also discuss how predictive analytics can streamline the discharge process and reduce length of stay while balancing staff to demand.

One great example is with a large, Midwest health system that was looking for ways to increase its perioperative case volume with better OR utilization and performance. Prior to implementing the Allscripts® Logic Suite this health system struggled with balancing the demands of a historical block schedule with the true fit of the surgical case load.  The problems most often faced were scheduling inefficiencies, with more cases being scheduled outside of primetime or the OR time going unused. Surgeons were hesitant to release time if they were unable to fill it because there was no guarantee they could receive more time later, if needed, or they held onto their time out of fear their blocks would be reduced. Conversely, if a block time was released, there was no system in place to make the availability widely known or it was too late to book a new case. The problem, at its core, is a combination of lack of insight into performance and the lack of predictability and exchange of time in a way that enables operations to react to change. With the Allscripts Logic Suite, the health system implemented a “digital marketplace” for OR time for surgeons to find and request OR time.

Additionally, leveraging AI to predict the likelihood un-booked time delivered intelligent recommendations for the exchange and release of time in accordance with updated block release policies. The health system also created a “micro OR strategy” that enabled the service lines to determine which surgeon or practices should still receive block time and delivered the data trust and data truth to articulate the “why” and the “how” for the change. With this strategy in place, the health system increased OR utilization by 5% (or an additional 120 surgeries a month) and generated an additional $22 million in revenue.

Another great example comes from a different Allscripts client that was looking to reduce length of stay by optimizing the discharge process. Using the Allscripts Logic Suite, the client streamlined the entire discharge process by delivering patient level predictions, up to seven days in advance, of the likelihood of discharge at 95%+ accuracy. The platform delivers a communication protocol along with the AI predictions that enabled coordination, prioritization and optimization of the entire discharge process. Discharge coordinators were given the highest priority patients across each shift and eliminated many discharge barriers such as pending results, transportation and disposition coordination. As a result, the organization reduced length of stay by six hours per patient and accomplished two additional discharges per day. This faster patient turnover rate enables the organization’s clinicians to see more patients, which benefits community health and delivers obvious benefits for the organization’s financial health as well.

While decreasing patient stay and increasing the number of surgeries is an obvious way to boost financial growth, that’s not the only way. In many cases, direct labor costs make up 60% of a hospital’s overall expenses. Optimizing staff schedules and increasing productivity is key in helping hospitals and health systems reduce cost. This same client, with its new discharge processes, saves more than an hour of time per person per shift when prioritizing discharges, and eliminates 200 hours of manual data collection on a weekly basis.

The last example I’ll share about how AI and Machine Learning can benefit hospitals is from another Allscripts client in the Midwest.  This organization suffered from frequent staffing shortages and a slew of manual processes. There was no consolidated view of all available staffing resources across the hospital, office staff was spending two to three hours every day rounding on units to understand their latest needs, and leaders spent most of their days addressing staffing issues instead of assisting with patient care.

With the Allscripts Logic Suite and its ability to forecast census rates up to seven days in advance, the organization improved staff utilization by reallocating nurses from low-census days to high-census days.  The predictions provide the level of enterprisewide visibility administrators need to manage changes in times of high demand. This ensured both better patient care and reduction of premium pay shifts by predicting demand and dynamically aligning resources to it, which saved the organization money. It also automated communication between central staffing offices, unit leadership and float pool management. Office staff reported that using a logic-based solution gave back 80 (or more) hours a week for proactive planning and more than 10 hours per week were given back to nursing leaders.

Technology has progressed significantly and using it to its full capabilities can help hospitals and health systems deliver operational excellence. To learn more about the Allscripts Logic Solutions, go here.

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