Anyone who works in an ambulatory surgery center is familiar with how challenging and frustrating the process of scheduling surgery can be. Often, the surgical scheduling process relies heavily on the hard work of lone surgical schedulers. Much of the information is siloed as it’s held by only one person. Plus, the general reliance on paper or email forms makes it much harder to communicate complex surgical plans, timelines, and resource needs in busy healthcare facilities.
As a result, details can be mishandled and information overlooked, resulting in additional, avoidable work by the scheduler – and sometimes also by the surgeon. As well as increased inefficiency, the issues caused by paper-based, old-fashioned surgery scheduling can result in cancellation and delays of surgery, unused block time, dissatisfied patients, and overall case mismanagement. In fact, scheduling issues could well cause a patient to seek surgical care with another provider, resulting in lost revenue and possible damage to the ASCs reputation.
In this blog, we’ll break down the four most common issues in surgery scheduling and explain how ASCs and other healthcare facilities can solve them.
1. Lack of clear accountability
In many healthcare facilities, the reliance on paper forms or emails for surgery scheduling means that it is unclear where overall responsibility for case management lies. Busy and overworked staff may pass on messages or make edits to surgery schedules or information that is not received by every stakeholder involved in the surgery.
2. Legibility issues with paper-based scheduling forms
Handwritten notes can easily result in transcription errors. The resulting errors not only cause frustration and potential delays to surgeries, but they can also impact negatively on patient care. Tracking down the source of errors also generates an increased workload for the scheduler, who will have to identify and resolve the error.
3. Incomplete forms or missing information
Countless surgeries have been delayed or even cancelled due to incomplete forms, missing patient information, and other mishandled details. These seemingly minor errors can result in serious case mismanagement, as well as significantly reducing the efficiency and profitability of the operating room.
In some cases, the errors creep into the case documentation because not all stakeholders have the same information available. For instance, surgeons may be aware of the limitations of a particular surgery location, but that information may not have been passed on to the scheduler in time.
These challenges are not unique to paper-based scheduling forms either. Most electronic medical record systems integrate surgical order forms. Unfortunately, filling these static and long digital forms are just as tedious as the paper ones, and for many surgeons, sometimes even more onerous and cumbersome to fill. Inevitably, overwhelmed schedulers often tasked with filling these EMR entries on the surgeon’s behalf, fill the bare minimum to get the case on the books. The end result is incomplete case information.
Compounding the problem, once a surgery has had to be rescheduled because of missing information, the scheduler will need to contact all parties by phone to notify them of the change. As well as creating more work for the already busy scheduler, there is a risk that not all parties will receive the update, causing further potential delays.
4. Too much reliance and burden on schedulers
For many ASCs, the surgery scheduler is heavily relied on, and their unexpected absence (for instance, due to illness) can cause the whole OR to grind to a halt. Meanwhile, the scheduler is juggling a mammoth workload, keeping every stakeholder up to date, ensuring the patient receives the best possible experience and care, playing phone tag with busy surgical staff, and completing multiple tasks by hand.
Healthcare facilities that use an automated surgery scheduling software benefit from the ability to customize each case posting, collaborate and share information quickly and easily, and handle unexpected changes seamlessly with real-time communication updates. If you’d like to know more about how CaseCTRL could help save your hospital or ASC time and money, schedule a demo today.