7 digital solutions to transform your health system’s clinical operations [Part 2]

Amy Dirks Stevens, EVP, and Linda Lockwood, Senior Advisor, Center for Operational Transformation, AVIA

digital clinical operations

This article is part two of our series on digital solutions for clinical operations. Part one, which explores access and orchestration, predictive staffing, coding and clinical documentation integrity, and computer-assisted physician documentation, can be found here

Amidst national recovery efforts, US health systems face a series of challenges exacerbated by COVID-19, including decreased margins and volumes, flattened revenues, increased expenses, staffing challenges, and dangerous levels of provider burnout. To survive in the “new normal,” health systems must accelerate digital transformation and introduce new operating models and capabilities enabled by digital technology and automation

Digitally enabled and automated clinical operations can impact functions across the entire enterprise, from improving provider experience to driving revenue and efficiency to boosting clinical outcomes. An analysis conducted by AVIA found digital clinical operations solutions can drive up to $185 million in cost savings and revenue opportunities for an example $2B health system. 

Health systems can make an immediate and powerful impact on provider and patient experience, patient outcomes, quality of care, and their bottom line by focusing on care orchestration and command centers, clinical asset management, and intelligent scheduling, as well as the four solutions listed in part one of this article series

Digital solutions to transform clinical operations

Command centers

What if you could increase transfers, reduce holds, maximize OR volume, and decrease sepsis, falls, and ICU admissions, all with data and automation?

It’s estimated the average US hospital loses $1.7 million a year due to poor communication and coordination among staff, which may be costing the healthcare industry $11 billion per year. Beyond the financial impact, this lack of coordination has dire effects on patients’ health – there is a 3% increase in mortality per hour associated with transfer delays from the emergency department (ED) to the ICU.

Orchestrating care and improving communication across a health system is an imperative to provide safe, efficient, and effective care across the continuum.

Command centers powered by data and AI centralize care management strategy, operations, transfers, information, and decision-making in one hub. This nerve center of a real-time health system can manage:

  • Patient transfers, both internally and externally
  • Bed availability and patient placement
  • Predictive staffing based on historic staffing levels
  • Call centers
  • Provider-to-patient and provider-to-provider communications
  • Remote patient monitoring and hospital-at-home care
  • eICUs
  • Virtual visits
  • Discharge processes

Command centers aggregate multiple data points to support decision-making that drives measurable improvements in revenue, focusing on capacity management, patient transfers, operating room (OR) throughput, operational efficiency, and quality of care.

Providers are alerted about potential harm events before they happen so they can proactively respond. Care is orchestrated inside and outside of the four walls of the hospital with the use of AI-enabled algorithms and predictive analytics. Health systems with an automated command center can see up to $40 million in savings, reduce transfer delays by 70% post-procedure, and increase the speed of bed assignments from the ED by 30%

Clinical asset management

What if you knew exactly how many medical devices you had, which ones needed to be replaced or retired, and how to protect these devices against cyberattacks?

On average, only 40-45% of clinical devices in a hospital are used on a daily basis. Despite this inefficient usage, clinical equipment can represent an average of 25% of annual capital expense and 2% of the operating expense. These clinical assets can also be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats – a data breach is estimated to cost a health system more than $2.2 million, but the majority of health systems report they have not invested in the technologies necessary to mitigate a data breach. Many health systems lack processes and evidence supporting decisions to buy, service, protect, replace, or retire clinical assets, which drives up costs and results in excess, underutilized equipment and an increased threat of hacks or data breaches.  

A digital clinical asset management solution can provide health systems with visibility into how many and which devices they have, enabling them to maintain and secure devices against cyberthreats, understand utilization patterns, and determine how to optimize their fleet. Clinical asset management can be broken down into three parts:

  • Clinical engineering: Using digital solutions to identify all clinical assets, maintain them, add new devices, and reallocate and remove devices to drive patient safety, streamline care delivery, and optimize costs. 
  • Clinical asset optimization: Using digital tools to view and analyze device utilization and patterns to drive intelligent decisions around assets. 
  • Cyber security: Managing and remediating security vulnerabilities for connected clinical devices, configure new connected devices, and securely dispose of devices. 

A robust clinical asset management system can improve patient care, protect your assets from cybersecurity attacks, increase staff productivity, reduce costs, and improve asset insights. Health systems who use digital clinical asset management tools can see a 20% reduction in clinical engineering operating expenses. Others have a 45% minimum time savings for nursing, as staff no longer have to spend as much time searching for, waiting on, retrieving, and cleaning medical assets

Intelligent scheduling 

What if you could increase the number of surgeries done per day while decreasing pre- and post-surgery delays?

Inaccurate scheduling and staffing levels can have a significant impact on operating room (OR) utilization and revenue. It’s estimated that one minute of an utilized OR can generate over $70 in revenue, but, on average, hospitals are only using 50-60% of OR capacity. Additionally, OR delays occur in 88% of surgical cases, costing hospitals over $1400 per delay. 

Scheduling OR blocks to meet surgeons’ needs while balancing revenue goals and optimizing asset utilization can be challenging for many health systems. Digital can help solve this issue: intelligent scheduling tools leverage predictive analytics to consider resource availability, staff schedules, operations hours, appointment history, and other parameters to smooth patient flow and minimize case delays. Intelligent scheduling can tackle four main paint points:

  1. Operating room scheduling: Optimize operating room usage through intelligent forecasting.
  2. Surgical staff scheduling: Manage and forecast surgical workforce and staffing needs. 
  3. Equipment/resource scheduling: Plan, forecast, and manage surgical equipment and resources to maximize capacity. 
  4. Patient flow management: Appropriately manage beds and patient flow based on volume and demand. 

Intelligent scheduling software can increase surgical volume, drive revenue, reduce congestion, and improve patient mortality. ORs generate around 70% of a hospital’s annual revenue, and digital scheduling tools have been shown to increase OR volumes by 9%. Additionally, one study found that an intelligent scheduling system removed bottlenecks by reducing post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) holds by 76% without decreasing operating room utilization. 

Transforming clinical operations with AVIA

Clinical operations are an essential component of improving patient and provider experience and exceeding revenue goals. If your health system is ready to emerge as a healthcare leader, the experts at AVIA’s Center for Operational Transformation are here to help. 

We partner with health systems to help your team build the business case for digital action, design a digital strategy to tackle your operational challenges, find the digital solutions that address your unique needs, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how digital can transform your clinical operations strategy.