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Think You're Operating at Capacity? Think Again

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, July 8, 2011

"Rooms were blocked 91% of the time. Optimally it should be 48%," she says. "We had the ability to add 5,000 patients by freeing up these blocks."

Physicians agreed to help find a solution that worked for all of them, and the institution.

"When you're talking with physicians about block scheduling vs. first-come first-serve, those are really difficult conversations," she says.

You might guess IT was involved here, and you'd be right. A sophisticated modeling software tool was used to weigh surgical demand against required resources, evaluate hundreds of thousands of potential scheduling scenarios, and allocate block time in a way that meets surgeons' needs while also accommodating new cases and flex capacity.

A team of physicians looked at many of the possible scenarios that the software presented, and collectively decided upon the most time-efficient schedule for the surgeons and the hospital as an organization. That helped with culture change, says Van Bree.

"They are willing to partner because it gives them greater control and from a leadership perspective, causes them to 'own' pieces of this organization," she says.

Concurrent work is progressing on moving patients efficiently through the organization, which should be both an employee- and patient-friendly effort. As Van Bree notes, the hospital "felt full" but actually wasn't.

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