When it comes to surgery scheduling, efficiency can make all the difference in improving patient outcomes and satisfaction—not to mention boosting revenue. With many practices forced to make administrative cuts, the burden on healthcare practices and ASCs to streamline surgery scheduling is even greater than ever.
According to a 2020 article by Sara Berg from the American Medical Association (AMA), “most ambulatory visits are now being conducted through telehealth and in places where COVID-19 is surging, there is a need for all hands-on deck.” Because of these changes, some health professionals are taking on new roles to meet demand. Berg further explains that though some CMS modifications have eased administrative burdens, it’s become evident that reducing administrative burden will remain important even after the pandemic subsides.
One way that the most competitive healthcare practices are reducing administrative burdens and becoming more efficient is by implementing surgery scheduling software. Increasingly, an industry that was stuck in the past, shuffling surgery scheduling cards and paper records, is moving toward electronic solutions that eliminate the human error and prevent complications arising from having the entire administrative burden fall on a single scheduler.
A software system helps schedulers and surgeons communicate complex surgical plans, timelines, and resource needs to every staff member involved. Surgery scheduling software does this in real time while being trackable, measurable, and bringing problems in your pipeline into the light so they can be addressed. To achieve more efficient surgical scheduling, you may want to investigate what software options are available. To get started, let’s examine what you should expect from a robust, effective solution.
What Makes a Good Surgery Planning Software?
Not all surgery scheduling software is created equal. Whether you are considering switching software or are in the process of choosing one, evaluate your options thoroughly so that you choose a comprehensive service that covers your healthcare practice’s unique needs.
Read on to discover the 7 most important features to look for when choosing a surgery scheduling software.
A case builder should be available to allow surgeons to effortlessly build complex cases in seconds. Ideally this should be a point-of-care tool that reduces the occurrence of lost or illegible case posting sheets and clinic interruptions. This feature streamlines the case building process and a sophisticated version can incorporate intelligent learning algorithms, saved surgeon preferences, coding engine, and multi-location support.
Seamless collaboration is made easier by an integrated dashboard. An integrated dashboard tracks pending, scheduled, completed, held, and canceled surgical cases in one central location that anyone on the team can reference.
This collaboration is instrumental in making sure everything is in order before the day the surgery is scheduled. Any issues with patient information, equipment, time blocks, etc., will be apparent and can be addressed with time to spare.
Feeling the need to clone your scheduler? Look for surgery scheduling software with an intelligent repository. This feature learns a surgeon’s case preferences to lessen your scheduler’s workload and time wasted trying to retrieve information. Communication within the software makes preferences clear and easy to retrieve. The repository references the case and shares information automatically, reducing surgeon dependency. Moreover, a centralized repository empowers anyone to help schedule surgery for a surgeon, reducing the need for a surgeon to spend hours training a scheduler their specific case preferences.
A surgical calendar is vital to constructing an efficient timeline. Surgical calendars that come equipped with an intelligent operating room allocation tool using institutional, surgeon, patient, and case-specific scheduling requirements can optimize scheduling sequences. A calendar that helps teams maximize block time utilization increases surgery throughout. With an electronic solution updated in real time, everyone will be informed when changes are made, reducing scheduling confusion while saving time. Internet calendars like Outlook or Google Calendar are a hassle to keep updated and furthermore, are not HIPAA compliant.
Optimizing OR time means you can book more surgeries and quickly recover from cancellations. Considering the average OR costs $1,000 per hour, utilizing an electronic surgical scheduling calendar keeps you from leaving money “on the operating table.”
To save time and improve communication, opt for surgical planning software with automatic notifications. It’s understood that surgery scheduling involves a lot of moving parts. Automatic notifications keep everyone on the same page sending alerts to patients, staff, surgeons, coordinators, assistants and anyone else involved in the surgery with a click of a button.
Notifying patients, staff, and surgeons regularly can reduce tardiness, making sure surgeries start on time as much as possible. Plus, automatic notifications can be used to prepare patients for surgery. No level of efficient scheduling can make up for the loss that occurs when a patient arrives unprepared for their surgery. Use automatic notifications to remind patients of important pre-operative information so that they show up on time and ready to go.
Cancellations are a massive cause of revenue loss for a surgical practice. You can curb cancellations with a risk analyzer, a decision support tool that takes care of analyzing patient and case-specific risk factors. Such a tool helps you identify patients who will benefit from specialist pre-operative clearance, cases at high risk for readmission and complications, order appropriate screening labs and highlight opportunities to proactively improve patient satisfaction. A risk analyzer is a crucial feature of a comprehensive surgery planning software because it helps you preempt problems.
Virtual patient guides allow you to communicate and form personal connections with patients without spending valuable staff hours. Patients who register for surgery should be added to communication pathways or provided education to prepare them for surgery. With this feature, you can automatically send push reminders, encouragement, and more to your patients. CaseCTRL features integrated AI chatbots that can answer common questions patients have specifically about their surgeries. This allows you to build patient trust, making them feel confident in their surgeon’s team and enhancing their overall experience.
A Comprehensive Solution
As the healthcare industry moves further into the digital space, practices that stick to paper-based scheduling systems are being left behind. The most competitive practices and ASCs will find ways to be more efficient. Though efficiency depends on many factors, most surgeons and staff will agree that time is the most important variable. According to an article in Becker’s Hospital Review, “even a slight delay in a case's start time, a lengthy turnover, or a few minutes spent looking for a piece of missing equipment, can severely hinder an OR's efficiency and ability to maintain a positive contribution margin.” A comprehensive surgery scheduling software system can not only help you prevent lost time, it can also aid in accurate and improved patient outcomes by facilitating better communication.
CaseCTRL is a comprehensive surgery scheduling solution that transforms the planning process from start to finish. The Case Builder, Repository, intelligent Surgical Calendar, Risk Analyzer, and Automatic Notifications work cohesively to optimize scheduling processes (and increase revenue in the process). Contact CaseCTRL to learn more about how our software can transform the way you do surgery scheduling.