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By Katie Adams
sell the c-suite on scheduling optimization software
“There’s nothing more sacred in healthcare right now than schedules,” said Dr. Patrick McGill, Indianapolis-based Community Health Network’s chief transformation officer, said Tuesday at roundtable held alongside the Transform Virtual Summit hosted by LeanTaaS.
For many surgeons, operating room schedule represents their last bastion of autonomy and they are reluctant to relinquish control over it. Nonetheless, the roundtable’s health system speakers said they are beginning to see increased operational efficiency after applying machine learning analytics to their operating room block scheduling. In other words, change is needed whether surgeons like it or not, though their concerns can be assuaged. 
Given the multitude of challenges health systems face — from increased labor costs to material shortages to reimbursement woes — Dr. McGill said it’s critical that hospitals incorporate machine learning into their block schedules sooner rather than later.
He said he circumvents surgeons’ concerns about giving up autonomy by assuring them that they’re not losing control of their schedules, but rather making minor tweaks so that more patients can undergo timely, often life-saving surgeries. 
When giving advice for health system leaders trying to convince their C-suite to adopt scheduling analytics, Dr. McGill also pointed out that the technology speaks to the new patient preferences that consumerism brings to the table. Patients want better access and timelier care, and scheduling analytics leads to optimized utilization of OR time.
Aaron Miri, Jacksonville-based Baptist Health’s chief digital and information officer, also encourages health system leaders to be bullish about scheduling analytics in C-suite meetings. He contends the commonly-held belief that EHRs can perform quality scheduling optimization as is a misconception. 
“Health systems invest a ton of money in electronic health records, but those health records are just silos of data,” he said during the roundtable. “They are not really intelligent in any way. I’m not being disparaging — it’s just not what they were designed for.”
Both Baptist Health and Community Health Network use LeanTaaS as their scheduling optimization partner. In a May interview with MedCity News, Mohan Giridharadas, the company’s CEO, said that while EHRs serve as excellent repositories for patient data, they simply don’t have the level of artificial intelligence sophistication built in that is required for optimization that will produce measurable results year–over-year.
LeanTaaS and its competitors, which include Qventus and XSOLIS, sell software-as-a-service designed to unlock capacity for healthcare providers.
Dr. McGill and Miri said adoption of the service was not a hard sell for their health systems as LeanTaaS helped them build a machine learning model that had been battle-tested with other providers.
Community Health Network adopted LeanTaaS’ technology in April. Since then, Dr. McGill said the software has opened up 1,200 to 1,500 hours of OR time, and that number is expected to grow with more surgeon buy-in.
Baptist Health implemented the technology in 2019, and Miri said the health system is seeing an average of 70% positive utilization across all its ORs. He added that Baptist Health has seen a 11% return on investment so far during its partnership.
Miri said that when advocating for scheduling optimization software in the C-suite, health system’s technology leaders should emphasize this technology’s proven ability to increase capacity and therefore revenue. If a health system does not want to adopt it, he said the organization is “leaving money on the table.”
Picture: DaevichMikalai, Getty Images
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