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Predictive analytics in healthcare projects: Transforming the Baptist Health OR with people, process, and technology

  • Amy Huveldt, PE, MBA, ASQ CSSBB
    Amy Huveldt, PE, MBA, ASQ CSSBB

    Vice President of Performance Excellence, Baptist Health

At LeanTaaS Transform 2022, Baptist Health Jacksonville Vice President of Performance Excellence Amy Cate Huveldt (PE, MBA, ASQ, CSSBB) co-presented with colleague Aaron Miri, Senior Vice President, Chief Digital & Information Officer, about scaling digital transformation across their system. In this byline, Huveldt describes Baptist’s strategy for deploying predictive analytics in healthcare projects, and discusses how the system successfully followed this strategy to deploy the AI and analytics technology that helped transform operating room utilization. View the full presentation here.

The largest health system and private-sector employer in North Florida and a Regional Center of Excellence, Baptist Health Jacksonville consists of five magnet-designated hospitals, with a sixth opening this fall, over 1,300 beds, and six outpatient surgery centers. Currently, we are staffed with over 1,700 physician partners (500 who are directly employed) and over 13,000 allied health team members. Last year 47,000 surgical procedures were performed across our 74 operating rooms and 14 endoscopy suites. At Baptist, we are constantly aware of our mission and who we serve, focusing on our processes to deliver high-value care to our patients.

Baptist has a small group of internal consultants who use Lean and Six Sigma methodologies to drive improvement across the organization, using a data-driven decision making mindset. We strive to achieve the most effective, efficient, and consistent processes in delivering healthcare. No matter the process we work to improve, we want it to yield the best outcomes, to be done with as little input as needed to drive the most value, and to be repeatable when put into practice from shift to shift, from team member to team member, and from hospital to hospital.

Because Baptist is such a large health system with a diverse range of providers and services, it’s important for our efforts to create a rising tide that raises all ships. Whenever we discover an improved practice that produces positive results, we strive to leverage it across all relevant settings. We accomplish this by collaborating with all key stakeholders to solve problems, coordinating tests of change and pilots with a clear scope and goal, then sharing results and lessons learned. Putting this into practice requires a platform to deliver timely, transparent updates to all involved, and allows our stakeholders to be agile and make informed decisions quickly. Adopting iQueue for Operating Rooms, which leverages surgical data through AI-level analytics, has allowed the Baptist OR to develop best practices and put them into action, as well as use data to solve immediate challenges around surgical room and resource utilization.

Baptist’s surgical challenges and finding solutions through healthcare analytics: achieving better robot utilization

The struggles Baptist has faced with optimizing OR utilization reflect those occurring at many other healthcare organizations. It was challenging to maintain a critical balance between respecting surgeons’ assigned block time and recapturing unused minutes for those whose practices were growing. Surgeons, both employees and affiliates, were unable to find the OR time they needed, despite seeing ORs and other resources sitting open and idle during business hours. As a team, pre-iQueue, we struggled to obtain the timely, actionable, and trusted data we needed to resolve this.

Our use of surgical robots is another example of this disconnect. Baptist’s three robots were in such high demand, and despite showing consistently low utilization, we were fielding requests for new robots. We needed to be good financial stewards and could not purchase expensive equipment without proof that we truly needed it and were using our existing equipment to its fullest extent.

To learn when and where the need for surgical robots actually was, we were able to use the information that iQueue for OR provided us. Using healthcare analytics from iQueue, we could not only see which surgeons were consistently using the robots, but also ensure those surgeons were guaranteed use of the robots at times that worked for them. This targeted assignment of robot time left enough open time for those who were learning to use the robots or beginning to grow their robotic case volumes.

Equitably distributing robot time in this manner tremendously increased surgeon satisfaction and drove continually greater utilization as well. After deploying healthcare analytics technology, we saw a 10% improvement in utilization in April 2021 from 2019, then an 18% increase month over month in May, or 24% improvement year over year. The improved use of existing resources, more timely scheduling of cases, and reduced need for capital outlay shows clear benefits to our patients and finances as well.

Lessons learned: a three-pronged approach to implementing best practices with Baptist’s surgical team

When we implement best practices at Baptist that yield results, like our approach to robot use, we focus on a three-pronged approach:

1. Align the people: Knowing the importance of having buy-in from people across the board, we begin any new idea or practice by discussing it with senior leadership, then bring in surgeons, anesthesiologists, and others from the surgical front lines for their input. Taking this team-centered approach, where we seek and value perspectives throughout the organization, supports a culture of willingness to try new processes and new technologies, even though things may have been done the same way for a long time. Ensuring that everyone is familiar with a solution like iQueue and its functions, and identifying and liaising with superusers, makes honing and implementing the solution easier.

2. Document the process: To best use a solution and continue a practice, we document our guidelines for the surgical management processes we have found to be the best, including those such as how blocks are given or used, and how surgical time is released or reassigned. Establishing a referenceable framework for these essential daily processes allows us to perform them efficiently and consistently and gives us a shared basis to pivot from in time of crisis. We have applied this approach to our use of iQueue, and iQueue itself also offers a transparent platform accessible by all stakeholders for reference and documentation of what they do.

3. Choose the right technology: We brought on iQueue for Operating Rooms, whose predictive analytics capabilities had successfully supported healthcare projects at other systems. We knew the solution would address the specific utilization and data sharing problems that were preventing us from fully optimizing our ORs and accompanying resources. In doing so, we continued to involve our key internal stakeholders and ensured the iQueue team would act as partners to continue iterating solutions to take our existing and future processes to the next level. Having our people and processes already in place facilitated the implementation and results we achieved.

See the full presentation by Baptist Health here, and further surgical success stories and examples from other health systems.

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