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To improve operating room utilization means open ORs are constantly in use

Webinar Writeup: Doing more with less – WakeMed’s experience with optimizing operating room capacity

Kathy Bennett

Content writer for PAN Communications

At the Winter 2021 LeanTaaS Transform Hospital Operations Summit, Jon Peterson, Business Manager of Perioperative Services at WakeMed Health, and Ashley Walsh, Vice President, Client Services – iQueue for Operating Rooms and Inpatient Beds, discussed how giving staff and physicians full data transparency enabled them to promote optimal operating room utilization and inpatient capacity. 

Missed the event? Visit the Transform Perioperative track page to hear the full talk, or read a full transcript here.

The context:

WakeMed Health and Hospitals is a 934-bed, private, not-for-profit healthcare system based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with tertiary hospitals located in the surrounding community. The flagship Raleigh campus is a Level 1 Trauma Center that cared for over 24,000 surgical services patients in 2021.

What WakeMed did:

Several years ago, WakeMed was experiencing specific issues related to lowered operating room utilization based on case volume and surgeons’ unwillingness to close ORs. WakeMed sought to partner with a third-party solution to provide an unbiased view of collected data to share with physicians.

From the time WakeMed started the process of exploring iQueue for Operating Rooms to going live, the situation changed. Additional providers were onboarded and demand for operating room time increased. WakeMed now needed to increase available OR time rather than reduce it.

As a community hospital system and Level 1 Trauma Center, WakeMed experienced capacity challenges throughout the hospital with an influx of inpatient admissions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were three separate periods of time when it was necessary to reduce certain types of cases in the OR due to the capacity challenges. As a trauma center, their time-sensitive case volume never went away. Cases that were not time-sensitive needed to be adjusted in the schedule in order to prioritize inpatient floor bed space. 

WakeMed utilized iQueue for Operating Rooms to provide triage messaging to providers and office schedulers outside of EHR access. This allowed patient triaging based on criteria requirements, and enabled cases to be delayed based on available in-house space. Conversely, they were able to schedule time-sensitive procedures for patients in need of emergent care.  

On a daily basis, physician and clinical leadership assessed available ICU and floor bed space that was typically used for post-op care. Decisions were then made on how many procedures could be accommodated in the daily schedule.

WakeMed was an early adopter in iQueue for Operating Rooms triage messaging and the backlog management tool for elective surgery prioritization. 

The results:

Since implementing iQueue for Operating Rooms, WakeMed has realized the following results:

  • Increased weekend capacity by 22%, based on available OR minutes, during the daytime shift, so schedulers are shifting fewer cases to Monday morning for cleanup 
  • Expanded case volume availability in late afternoons by four rooms from 3-7pm, which provided an additional 60 hours of available OR time during the normal work week
  • Since fiscal year 2018, annual volume has increased, on average, 3.8% per year, without having to expand staff or assets. From fiscal years 2018 to 2021 volume has increased 11.5%

Community providers can now view availability at all facilities, allowing them to move cases based on access. Leadership is able to provide guidance and data transparency to physician partners and practice leaders. Visibility into data across the WakeMed organization provides a broader view to stakeholders, facilitates physicians conversations, and drives operational decision-making. Overall, iQueue for Operating Rooms has created a culture of transparency across the system. 

View the whole webinar on the Transform site, or read a transcript here.

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