AnesthesiaGo: How Software Can Help Operating Room Scheduling

Healthcare is a noble profession, but as many will attest, clinicians still have to overcome far too many daily obstacles to do what they were trained to do—treat patients.

Eliminating these obstacles with smart technology has been PerfectServe’s remit for 25 years. To be sure, medicine will always require some level of human oversight, but when you can automate manual processes that cause delays and add frustration, you’re going to make clinicians very happy. 

Provider Scheduling has been doing this for years by automating the creation of provider schedules, and the newest solution to join the PerfectServe fold—AnesthesiaGo, which auto-generates daily OR case schedules—is cut from the same cloth.

Disrupting the Operating Room Case Scheduling Process

When AnesthesiaGo’s founder, a practicing anesthesiologist by the name of Dr. Mike Bronson, was unexpectedly given the responsibility of building daily OR case schedules for his group, he came face to face with a vital process that was in desperate need of a revamp.

Image of Dr. Mike Bronson

This responsibility is usually given to a senior anesthesiologist, and it’s normal to find them building the next day’s schedule in the late afternoon or early evening—after they’ve dispensed with their clinical duties. Depending on the size of the group, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to a few hours to finish this process. After the schedule is sent out, it’s also inevitable that the creator receives texts, phone calls, and emails requesting revisions.

Taking on this kind of tedious task after finishing a day of procedures is, to say the least, not ideal. And that’s why Dr. Bronson was convinced he could do it better with technology.

With help from a friend who had deep experience in the fields of data analytics, advanced algorithms, and UI/UX designs, Dr. Bronson spent four months studying past data and figuring out different ways of scheduling. The next ten months were spent building the basic solution infrastructure, laying a foundation for the algorithms, and then optimizing said algorithms.

Image of clocks and provider schedules

Case Scheduling with AnesthesiaGo

The solution born from all of this work, AnesthesiaGo, has four main goals:

  • Be Faster: Save hours (or even days) each week by cutting time required for schedule creation.
  • Use Automation: Leverage technology to reduce administrative burden.
  • Reduce Human Error: Minimize double-bookings, scheduling someone at a location for which they’re not credentialed, not leaving enough time for travel between locations, etc.
  • Improve Efficiency: Find a better way to create daily case schedules.

To put it simply, AnesthesiaGo aligns the best anesthesia provider to the best case schedule, promotes efficiencies and transparency for all surgical staff, and helps prevent delayed or canceled cases associated with less optimal—but still very common—manual scheduling methods.

12 Minutes to deliver care

The proof is in the pudding, too. AnesthesiaGo customers can now auto-generate and deliver a daily case schedule in just 12 minutes on average, which is down by 44 minutes versus traditional manual scheduling methods. That’s almost an 80% improvement!

And taking it a step further, AnesthesiaGo also leans heavily into provider wellness by supporting the concept of teaming (sometimes called “best matches”). For a variety of reasons, it’s common for anesthesiologists and surgeons to have well-defined preferences about who they work with during a procedure, and AnesthesiaGo will pair these optimal teams as frequently as possible. It sounds pretty simple on its face, but by including this functionality, AnesthesiaGo helps to improve provider satisfaction and wellness while facilitating continuity of care.

Anesthesiologist and Medical Providers with a Checkmark

In an interview with AIMed, Dr. Bronson noted that anesthesiologists often deal with life-threatening, traumatic events. But despite the high stakes of their clinical duties, “the most stressful part [of our jobs] is not about saving lives, but handling the paperwork that needs to be completed in the shortest possible time.”

AnesthesiaGo can make that stressful paperwork a thing of the past. Learn more about our Case Scheduling for Anesthesia Staff, or fill out the form below if you’d like a member of our team to contact you for a demo.

How to Improve Medical Response Times for Nurses

We sat down with three PerfectServe nurse leaders to understand more about the heart of a nurse and how they can improve workflows in both acute and post-acute care settings. Watch the interview below on your next 20-minute break.

Read more about nurses communication and collaboration daily needs.

Recognizing the Heart and Role of Nurses

Did you know cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among women in the United States?1 To raise awareness about this epidemic, the American Heart Association recognizes women’s cardiovascular health every year in February. Women account for 85% of the nursing workforce and as much as 90% in other healthcare occupations, such as medical assistants, nurse midwives, and speech pathologists.2

One of the core principles—you might even call it the heart—of the nursing profession is having the compassion to care for others. But who is taking care of nurses to reduce the stresses and strains associated with their work? They’re the backbone of the care team, and they’re in need of tools that allow them to provide care as efficiently and effectively as possible. 

When caring for a critically ill patient, being able to quickly and easily send a message to the right care team member may relieve elements of the daily exhaustion nurses face. There are two effective ways to facilitate this: (1) having an accurate real-time on-call schedule and (2) integrating a secure text messaging system that reduces the number of steps to communicate with providers and patient family members.[/vc_column_text]

I think it’s about taking barriers out of the way for our clinicians and our nurses and the entire care team to do what needs to be done, you know, with a limited amount of time, we have to break down barriers and make things easier.

-Annie McCoy, Enterprise Account Executive

 

Improve Medical Response Times with an Accurate, On-Call Schedule

A nurse’s time is far too valuable to be spent on looking for an up-to-date physician on-call schedule at the nurses’ station. Imagine a nurse flipping through a morning schedule (that has since changed) dangling from the wall. She takes several minutes to look up how a provider wants to be contacted at that particular time of day, further delaying response times and treatment for a patient. Later, the nurse finds out the provider she paged is no longer on call, and now she has to page someone else, first by repeating the manual process of looking up schedules.

In the meantime, the patient’s symptoms are worsening, the patient’s family is becoming increasingly anxious, and the nurse is fatigued—juggling the patient’s needs and the family’s concern while tracking down the right provider is a delicate dance. To put it simply, it’s exhausting when you don’t have tools that seamlessly facilitate the most basic—but still important—elements of your job.

To ensure timely patient care and protect clinicians from burnout, it’s important to have an accessible, dynamically updated on-call schedule that can be tightly integrated with your organization’s secure messaging solution. This simplifies the process to initiate communication between nurses and providers.

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Time saving is both in acute and the ambulatory space. Who was on call? Who was covering that unit? It can be a web that is very difficult to untangle. Where we need to be headed is more engagement into the patient and family member. How do we take a congestive heart failure patient?…They need to see these details beyond the acute and ambulatory side of things.

-Kelly Conklin, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer

 

Helping Nurses by Using a Secure Text Messaging Solution

Many technologies, like pagers and walkie talkies, can be tedious, unreliable, and not well-designed with clinicians in mind. For nurses, minutes matter, and all of these seemingly minor inconveniences and delays can add up fast. This increases stress on a nurse’s heart, as well as the heart of their patients.

Heart Issues in the Emergency Department (ED)

Consider STEMI: the primary focus of care is to restore blood supply to the heart as quickly as possible. If nurses can expedite notifications and coordination of care, the better outcomes the patient will have and a higher likelihood for survival.

Several steps are required to manage patients with STEMIs, and a variety of care team members need to be notified along the way. 

For example, the EMS notifies the ED charge nurse of an incoming patient with chest pain. An ED provider needs to be assigned to care for the patient. An ED nurse is needed to prepare for the patient’s arrival. An ED Tech is needed to perform the ECG, and patient registration needs to register the patient. Pending the results of the ECG and laboratory studies, further communication is needed to activate the cath lab team and the on-call cardiologist to re-oxygenate the heart as quickly as possible.

All of these steps require the ED charge nurse to maximize coordination and notifications to the appropriate team members to ensure the patient receives timely care. A secure messaging platform integrated with the on-call schedule expedites the process of notification to the ED team, cath lab, and cardiologist during these critical events.

Additionally, when EMS uses a secure messaging platform integrated with the on-call schedules, this supports communication of a STEMI diagnosis and preactivation of the cardiac cath lab team while en route to the hospital. The results of the ECGs can be shared with the ED provider or cardiologists to confirm findings. 

This direct communication determines if the patient is eligible to bypass the ED and be transported directly to the cardiac cath lab. Bypassing the ED not only reduces the burden on already strained ED resources, but saves the patient time that is needed to reperfuse their cardiac tissue, improving outcomes, and decreasing mortality.

They have a tool that can mimic the technology in their day-to-day lives. It takes up to 10 years to catch up to technology in healthcare. Real-time technology helps nurses. The last implementation feedback: “This is so easy.” They can just pick up this device, communicate in real-time, at their fingertips. It’s amazing to hear. They don’t like to hear, “Not another technology you’re making me learn again.”

-Michelle Hamland, Senior Clinical Consultant

 

Give a Nurse’s Heart a Break: Strengthen Their Workflow

At PerfectServe, we’ve spent 25 years improving patient care by listening to the nurses and doctors that perform patient care. Time-sensitive emergencies, such as STEMIs, require quick decisions. Nurses equipped with efficient communication technology and scheduling solutions reduce common barriers in their everyday workflows.

For more information, read how other hospitals have used automated, real-time communication to decrease rapid response times and improve communication workflows for nurses and clinicians.

1American Heart Association. The Facts About Women and Heart Disease. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/facts

2Cheesman Day, C., Christnacht, C. (2019, August 14). Women Hold 76% of All Health Care Jobs, Gaining in Higher-Paying Occupations. The United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/08/your-health-care-in-womens-hands.html

Healthcare Trends in 2022: Top 6 Needs to Consider for Medical Groups

The pandemic has accelerated some of the healthcare trends that were on the rise before 2020. In our interview with Dr. Rodrigo Martínez, practicing otolaryngologist and Chief Medical Officer with PerfectServe, and Matt Kothe, Manager of Corporate Communications, they unpack the six factors healthcare organizations need to understand for their staff and patients.

Read below for a deeper explanation of these trends and needs expressed in the interview with Dr. Martínez.

Digital Transformation Management

Digital tools allow individuals to send messages through methods like HIPAA-compliant secure messaging. Whether it’s between clinicians, or to patients and family members, it’s crucial to implement a controlled workflow for this communication. Without digital management in your healthcare system, you run the risk of potentially overwhelming clinicians, which is less than ideal given observed burnout levels across the industry.

When a patient takes time to log into a portal and send a message, not getting a timely response can dissuade them from trying to engage with their healthcare provider in the future. If that patient includes important medical information and nothing is being done, it can have devastating consequences.

Here are a few questions an organization can ask when setting up new technologies:

  • Is someone sending a message to someone else? 
  • If yes, who is it going to, and who is responding? 
  • Does the current workflow include the appropriate recipient?

Developing basic workflow hygiene will help, especially when the communication involves time-sensitive medical issues. 

Adapt to Competitors

With consumer behaviors evolving, the ability to create a better patient experience is key to the success of your organization. Competitors like large retail pharmacies now offer on-site healthcare services, with customized, easy reminders and interfaces for patients. They are leveraging technology to provide all-encompassing healthcare services—a push health systems can no longer ignore.

A few examples:

  • CVS Pharmacies now have the ability to schedule appointments and exchange information online, in addition to having a pharmacy on site. CVS offers services for their walk-in patients called the MinuteClinic®, which provides care similar to a primary provider for things like skin conditions, minor illnesses, and wellness check-ups.
  • Walgreens started offering similar walk-in services at their Community Clinic in 2017, treating chronic conditions and patients 12 months and older.
  • One Medical is also leveraging technology to provide a more all-encompassing healthcare approach and currently offers options in major cities across the U.S.

Interoperability

Sharing critical information with competitors hasn’t been in the best interests of many companies. Instead, the burden of moving or transmitting medical records from one format or location to another often falls to clinicians, nurses, and even the patients themselves.

In non-clinical settings, it’s possible to send an SMS message using multiple tools, but the problem is you cannot typically send messages between these tools. Exchange standards have not been established, and connecting these disparate tools is challenging. Even so, progress has still been made between a few EHR vendors, which use technology that functions as an intermediary.

True interoperability with “one app to rule them all” is not a reality at the moment, but it’s still the “holy grail” of healthcare technology needs. Not enough tools are robust or extensive enough to handle the complexities of modern healthcare. However, solutions are underway to build integrations and other interoperability workflows, such as PerfectServe’s simple one-tap messaging features.

Address Provider Wellness and Burnout

There is no silver bullet for improving clinician wellness by addressing burnout. Pre-pandemic burnout influences are certainly different from the ones experienced post-pandemic. In the initial phase of the pandemic, even with the overwhelming number of sick patients, clinicians and providers rose to the challenge, thinking, “Okay, this is what I’ve trained for all of my life.”

But, the simple truth is that sustaining an emergency state can tire and negatively impact humans in a very profound way. It creates unendurable situations where people are physically and emotionally drained. Adding to the challenge is the fact that a sizable portion of the population in the United States has not been vaccinated, which has created a bit of an “empathy gap” for some medical professionals who desperately need relief but continue to see avoidable COVID hospitalizations. When developing technology, it’s important to be sensitive to current circumstances so you can offset some of the more onerous inputs clinicians deal with every day.

Nursing Shortage

Nursing shortages affect all layers of healthcare. This trend has been on the radar for a while, but the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the problem as some nurses have left the profession entirely for a number of reasons. Further, if you’re a nurse or physician, you’re also a husband, wife, brother, sister, son, or daughter. If your loved ones get sick, you’re not able to serve patients at the same time. When you throw in additional patient surges, it makes the workload of those who remain more challenging, creating a snowball effect.

Empathy in Healthcare Technology

The people on the front lines of the pandemic have always been heroes, but their efforts have truly been herculean over the past few years. If we develop collaboration technology in these circumstances—which PerfectServe certainly does—we have to be proactive and responsive to current needs while using our product innovations to offset and redirect some of the administrative or logistical inputs that add to care team toil. Much of PerfectServe’s technology reduces these kind of burdens for health systems and their staff every day.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Invest in the Patient Experience

In the U.S., healthcare is not just the individual interactions between a patient and their physician, nurse practitioner, or other caregiver. It takes a team to provide optimal care for an individual patient. Examining how to facilitate and maintain these workflows efficiently needs to be at the forefront of patient care.

Healthcare Technology Solutions for Patients

When designing clinical collaboration solutions, healthcare software providers need to keep the patient experience in mind.

As people grow older and acquire chronic diseases, personalizing care will be important. We have the remote technology to reach patients outside clinic and hospital walls, yet it’s the application and collaboration of these tools that will make a difference in patient outcomes.

As more emphasis is placed on taking care of patients at a distance, the pandemic has forced us to move into the realm of what you might call “healthcare 2.0.” Some of these advances are long overdue, while others are just in the beginning stages.

The intelligent application of analytics and AI could help siphon through data to emphasize important things so the right people can take timely action, or automate the correct action. Using technology this way should ultimately lead to improved and more personalized care for all patients.

Asynchronous Healthcare Delivery

What comes to mind when you think of an ideal experience with a provider?

Whether it’s seeing your physician, having an interaction with a nurse in the hospital, or a visiting with a team of chronic disease care nurses, these consultations can happen face-to-face, by phone, or over a video call.

With technology, you can start collecting most of the information for better care ahead of time without having to wait for a live interaction, minimizing the need to fill paper forms on-site.

How does this help healthcare professionals and their patients?

Asynchronous Healthcare Delivery Outcomes

Asynchronous technology offers a new convenience for individuals who are comfortable revealing their information to the healthcare provider, feeling confident everything has been packaged correctly in written form. Many adults don’t seek in-person care because it can be inconvenient, taking hours to plan and get to a clinic. This technology creates more convenient methods for patients to seek quality care.

It allows access to healthcare for individuals whose schedule may not align with the provider at the moment of the live visit. This helps care team members in the prioritization process. Digital, asynchronous technology can allow one person to interact with many people, improving care outcomes for all of them.

Safe and Transparent Healthcare Communication

Technology helps medical providers gather a lot of patient information ahead of time, and it allows everything to be collected and then placed in a queue so a human can review it. A digital intake form is just one example, and sometimes patients are more comfortable writing down a message about their health condition versus talking about it during a face-to-face interaction. Sometimes patients prefer a phone call and don’t want to be seen on Zoom, or they’re perfectly happy writing out information for the physician to get back to them.

Why Secure Medical Texting Works Better for Patients

Secure Text Messaging for Physicians and Medical Practices

When your staff books an appointment with patients over the phone, there’s no guarantee they will come. Patients may miss or skip medical appointments for a variety of reasons: fear, overlapping commitments, lack of resources, or even just forgetfulness. That’s why it’s crucial to tap into habits patients already use for their personal and professional lives, such as calendar invites and text reminders.1

We’re all patients, and we rely on our phones—a lot. So why not engage patients on their own devices? It’s a solid bet that text messaging will continue to be the number one form of communication cross-generationally among the general public.

“91.9% of patients agreed that text updates helped them avoid calling the office.”2

Patients Check Text Messages More Than Email

Text messaging is one of the fastest and most successful ways to engage with patients. In fact, text messages have a 98% open rate and are typically read within the first few minutes of delivery. By comparison, email open rates only average between 12-25%.3

Do you know how many times Americans check their phones? 160 times a day.4 That’s more than enough to deliver a critical message to a patient or care team member.

Mobile phone usage transcends economic barriers. If a patient doesn’t have access to transportation, a reminder text message could allow them time to get assistance from a rideshare program. One medical provider sent three text reminders to inform patients of the Lyft vehicle picking them up, along with three more follow-up texts after the visit to ensure they arrived home safely. From this effort, patient show rates improved from 54% to 68%.5

These strategies reduce emergency department visits, especially if the clinic partners with social support services or similar rideshare programs. In addition, sending appointment reminders to patients with chronic conditions via text can help them stay on top of their needs and improve their road to recovery.

Texting may offer an efficient, inexpensive way to give a voice to people who aren’t often heard and whose needs aren’t always met.6

Two Reasons Patients Prefer Secure Healthcare Messages

HIPAA rules state that the law “does not prohibit the use of text messaging in healthcare. It is perfectly acceptable for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to communicate with each other—and even patients—via text message.”7 While this is true, certain protections and safeguards still need to be in place to maintain secure PHI, and the data must be encrypted. Using a secure text message system will reduce the friction of communication barriers for both healthcare providers and their patients.

#1 – Secure Text Reminders Keep Patients Engaged

Patients are busy. They may be at work, with family, or lack methods in which to reach the medical office. When they are able to call and check on their appointment, medical staff may not be available to take the message. Sending a text message appointment reminder with a HIPAA-compliant system may decrease those communication errors and missed calls. Another way to alleviate this tension is to set up one-way message reminders regarding patient prescriptions and appointments.

Learn how one medical practice used this method to reduce patient no-shows.

#2 – Forgot Your Portal Login? A Secure Medical Text Might Solve the Problem

Fewer than 25% of patients activate an account for their provider’s patient portal.8 Maybe a lot happened during an appointment, and the physician typed a mountain of notes in the portal. The details and care instructions were clearly defined and detailed. But does the patient know this? Not if they never access the portal.

Using text to support post-appointment instructions such as specialist referrals, medication adherence, or exercises can be a great way to increase patient engagement. Patients could use the secure link to inquire about their treatment, and the provider can respond with clarifying questions and care guidance. A secure, two-way system enables providers to text patients without receiving a flood of calls on their personal device. This mitigates patient call volume, especially on holiday weekends and more typical Saturdays and Sundays.

Rather than getting bogged down with interactions that leave patients with more questions than answers and doctors with directives that go unfollowed, connected care technology promotes a more interactive relationship around treatment.9

Why Text Messaging is the Future of Patient Engagement

#1 – It Keeps Clinical Communication Efficient

Instead of stockpiling 30+ voicemails until the office opens, why not route those calls to the appropriate care team member as needed? Using voice-to-text (V2T) technology can reduce medical transcription errors and confirm an accurate message gets delivered and received by the current on-call provider. A patient call experience could look like this:

Physician Messaging System: “Dr. Driver is on call this afternoon. Please call them at 999-999-9999.” 

Patient: “Hi Doc, is it okay if I take another aspirin after 2 o’clock today? I need to know as I’m still experiencing a lot of pain.”

Using the V2T technology to send the information, Dr. Driver could get the simple alert and decide to respond with a secure message. Combined with masking their personal number, they could send a HIPAA-secure link to initiate a virtual appointment if necessary.

#2 – It Improves Care Delivery Outcomes and Provides Valuable Feedback

Need a feedback loop to understand why patients skipped their last few appointments? What about measuring patient satisfaction scores? Send out your next patient satisfaction survey through a secure medical text.

Patients are more likely to leave an honest review about your medical practice if you follow up after the appointment. Armed with patient feedback, medical practice managers and hospital leaders can pinpoint areas of inefficiency and allocate resources to improve patient outcomes.

Texting is here to stay, and you can utilize it to reduce costs, save time, and better engage patients.

Is it time to rethink your patient communication strategies?

See this research guide on supporting value-based care initiatives for patients through secure text. Better communication = better outcomes.

1Norman, Abby. (2020, January 21). 4 Reasons People Don’t Go to the Doctor. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-people-dont-go-to-the-doctor-4779661

2Campbell, K., Blackburn, B. Erickson, J., Pelt, C., Anderson, L., Peters, C., Gililland, J. (2021). Evaluating the Utility of Using Text Messages to Communicate With Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 5(6).

3What Are the Average Click and Read Rates for Email Campaigns? Campaign Monitor. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/what-are-the-average-click-and-read-rates-for-email-campaigns/

4Dobrilova, T. (2021, December 7). 35+ Must-Know SMS Marketing Statistics in 2021. TechJury. https://techjury.net/blog/sms-marketing-statistics/#gref

5Chaiyachati, K., Hubbard, R., Yeager, A., Mugo, B., Shea, J., Rosin, R., Grande, D. (2018, June). Rideshare-Based Medical Transportation for Medicaid Patients and Primary Care Show Rates: A Difference-in-Difference Analysis of a Pilot Program. J GEN INTERN MED 33(6), 863–868. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4306-0

6Chang, T. Text messaging connects people to healthier habits, researchers to urban subjects. University of Michigan Health: Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/text-messaging-connects-people-healthier-habits-researchers-urban-subjects

7HIPAA Journal. Text Messaging in Healthcare. https://www.hipaajournal.com/text-messaging-in-healthcare/

8Campbell, et al.

9Kennedy, R. (2021 November 12). 5 Ways Tech and Care Delivery Models Get Payers Closer to the Quadruple Aim. Managed Healthcare Executive. https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/5-ways-tech-and-care-delivery-models-get-payers-closer-to-the-quadruple-aim