Analytics help El Camino boost efficiency in scheduling, staffing

Vendor assistance helps the healthcare organization improve operations, Cheryl Reinking says.

El Camino Hospital in California is using business intelligence software to improve physician scheduling in its operating rooms.

The healthcare organization received important assistance from the vendor in making the improvements, El Camino executives say.

The hospital bought an application from analyticsMD several years ago, when the hospital brought a new maternal/child operating room online. The hospital needed help with improving physician scheduling, and the vendor showed hospital staff how to analyze data to set up scheduling blocks, track how well schedules were being kept and identify the causes when they weren’t.

The analytics software then was used to assess regular ORs by looking at case starts, room turnover and other efficiency measures, then using the findings to better match staffing to OR needs.

For instance, surgeons reserve time for their procedures by selecting a block of time, explains Cheryl Reinking, chief nursing officer. A physician may claim 7:30 a.m. until noon as his or her block. Analytics can show if the physician is using at least 75 percent of that block time and, if not, someone else might get the block.

Also See: Mass General, Healthwise join to support patient decisions

El Camino teamed with analyticsMD, now named Qventus, because the vendor was willing to sit down and solve problems with hospital personnel and come up with solutions, according to Reinking. “They can think of ways to use our data that that we would never think of.”

For example, the hospital was trying to reduce patient falls, and traditional assessment tools identified many patients at risk. But which patients were the highest risk and why? As hospital personnel brainstormed with the vendor on possible factors that involved the call light system, so analytics were used to find out how much calling was intentional, how much was accidental and how often patients were trying to get out of bed by themselves and triggering an alarm. So the vendor built a decision-making application to help inform changes in procedures using the call light data.

Results of the data triggered an initiative to improve the patient experience—too many needs were not being met, and that’s why patients were calling for support so often. The data also told staff a lot about patient behaviors, particularly those who would not call but were deciding to get out of bed without assistance.

So, cameras were put in the nurse stations and even in patient rooms, and a technician monitoring the cameras can call into a room where a patient is trying to get up to let the patient know a nurse is coming.

The lesson learned at El Camino was not to rely on one set of data because data lives in numerous information systems so use them all to make operational decisions, Reinking says. “There are ways to use your data to enhance care delivery using disparate information systems. We weren’t thinking about the importance of the call light system.”

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