How to Reducing the Wait Time For Surgical Consultations

Divino Plastic Surgery Blog by Dr. Carlos Chacon

November 17, 2022

Surgical Consultations

Surgical consultations can take a long time to complete, but you can reduce that by following a few simple steps. The first step is ensuring you understand the procedure’s eligibility criteria. Then, you can apply a Lean Six Sigma approach and use CI to streamline the process.

Eligibility criteria

Surgical waiting times are a significant policy challenge in many developed countries. The growing demand for elective surgeries has put pressure on health systems in these countries. Waiting times can be a stressful experience for both patients and service providers. They can also lead to reduced health outcomes.

Many countries have implemented innovative policies to reduce waiting times. However, more research is necessary to determine the impact of these measures.

In particular, standardized referral guidelines can improve cooperation between primary care practitioners and surgeons. These guidelines allow decision-makers to assess the appropriateness of a referral by examining the patient’s needs.

Better patient triage strategies can help avoid overcrowding in surgical clinics. This strategy also may improve the timeliness of elective surgical care. In addition, it may be worth considering using a simple questionnaire to track potential neurosurgical patients.

In addition to the self-administered 3-item questionnaire, another effective method of reducing waiting times is by allowing non-surgical patients to consult at other clinics. These treatments may be just as beneficial as surgery.

Computer Integrated Approach

Surgical consultations can be expedited using a CI (computer-integrated) approach. CIs provide a safe and convenient alternative to face-to-face consultations. Patients and clinicians are spared valuable time and money by reducing avoidable face-to-face visits. The proposed approach was tested in simulations and was found to be successful in improving average waiting times for elective surgeries.

The study’s results showed that the CI approach to surgical consultations reduced the mean waiting time for elective surgeries by 30 percent. This reduction in waiting times was mainly due to the addition of patients on the list with reduced wait times. However, some surgical subspecialties could not benefit from the CI approach.

While the use of eConsults in medical care has been studied extensively, several aspects still need to be addressed. These aspects include the surgical yield, defined as the proportion of face-to-face specialist visits scheduled for surgery. Many important factors can affect the result of eConsults. This is particularly true in surgical subspecialties, where various conditions are seen.

Single-parameter optimization

Surgical scheduling is a tedious and expensive process requiring many human interventions. Automated optimization techniques may generate optimized surgery schedules that save valuable staff time. These schedules may be simulated to gauge the system’s performance under uncertainty.

A simulation engine may execute on processor 110 and provide estimates of operational metrics. These metrics may include surgery durations, operating room open times, and PACU bed occupancy. These metrics may be displayed to the scheduling coordinator.

Optimized surgery schedules may be created in two stages. First, a scheduling system 104 may generate an optimized proposed surgery schedule based on resource constraints and operational metrics. The scheduling system may also develop an optimized program for surgeries to be performed the following day.

The optimization model used may be tailored to the objectives of the surgical facility. This may include ensuring the availability of critical surgical equipment, the availability of qualified anesthesiologists, and the availability of post-anesthesia care unit beds.

Lean Six Sigma

Using Lean Six Sigma can help reduce the wait time for surgical consultations. Healthcare organizations are embracing this methodology to improve patient care. This can also reduce the length of stay for patients in the hospital.

The Cleveland Clinic Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory used Six Sigma techniques to improve on-time patient arrival times and physician downtimes. This enabled the hospital to increase the number of cases handled daily without hiring more staff.

The Memorial Health System, a nonprofit four-hospital system in Springfield, Illinois, completed over 300 Lean Six Sigma improvement projects. They achieved almost $30 million in positive financial impact. These projects included a time-in-motion study that identified issues affecting service efficiency. This data was analyzed using detailed process maps.

Lean Six Sigma was used to improve patient satisfaction scores. Patients were categorized based on their needs, allowing for better discharge process design. This increased the number of patients seen per session by 9%.