After more than a month under Covid-19 restrictions, your practice is likely facing an unprecedented backlog of scheduled cases. Asking these questions will help us leverage our resources better and maximize our bottom line potential.

  • How can I improve scheduling to minimize cancellations?
  • How can I get the most value out of every scheduled case?
  • How can I utilize all staff members to their full potential and value?

As we prepare to take on more cases and try to get back to capacity, it’s more important than ever to leverage our resources in the smartest way possible. This article reviews the hidden costs of using RNs to schedule, the benefits of using a non-RN surgical scheduler when paired with a powerful scheduling tool, and how to make the transition.

COVID-19 Impact Part 1: Readiness Assessment

COVID-19 Impact Part 2: Response Framework

COVID-19 Impact Part 3: Scheduling with Restrictions

Are You Using RNs to Schedule Procedures?

Ambulatory surgery centers run lean operations – now more than ever. One traditional approach leads to utilizing highly-skilled nursing and technical staff in consolidated roles. While it’s not ideal to use highly paid staff to schedule patients or manage follow-up, administrators don’t see another option. Patient safety, complex training and lack of qualified entry level staff create a catch-22 for many of our clients.

Why We Use Our Highest Paid Resources

At first blush, utilizing a highly-skilled  person in scheduling seems like a natural choice. RNs possess vast medical knowledge, not head off potential obstacles for a patient’s procedure,  resulting in a cancelled procedure, frustrated patients and irked staff. 

Additionally, the increasing age of the US population brings increased medical complexity to the scheduling process. Schedulers must now consider a number of medications and chronic medical conditions that can increase the probability of error and cancellation. So utilizing your nursing team for a scheduling role seems like a resourceful solution. In the long run however, it can hurt your business and your bottom line. 

The Costs of Over Qualified Surgical Scheduling 

You want to utilize your staff to their maximal license, and day-to-day scheduling tasks do not accomplish that for your staffing needs. Think of utilizing your RN like paying an insurance premium for her added education and clinical knowledge. The cost of that added certainty can run from $50,000 to $90,000 a year. Typically, a practice may only afford a single RN in this role, so little (if any) redundancy exists if this critical person becomes ill or leaves your practice. Ultimately, an RN adds depth of knowledge, but still faces the problem of all experts: the ability to cost scale efficiently.  

Making the Transition: A Non-RN Surgical Scheduler

If not an RN scheduler, then who? A non-RN surgical scheduler serves an alternative surgical scheduling staffing solution. Although these staff members typically have a much more basic level of medical knowledge, they come with a significant financial advantage. Non-RN surgical schedulers typically get paid $15 to $20 per hour or $40,000 per year max.

With the right tools, an entry-level employee could easily onboard as an efficient, effective scheduler. Furthermore, your practice would see almost instantaneous financial benefit from the cost of overhead alone. Additionally, you may create additional surgical volume margins if this resource could achieve even higher rates of efficiency than your RN’s baseline.

A Refined Filter: The RN’s New Scheduling Role

This does not mean that your nurse will not continue to serve an important role in your scheduling process, it just means your RN can act in a much more cost-effective manner while providing higher value.

RN’s can act as a second filter to dig deeper for additional critical clinical information into patients identified as high risk.

Triaging High-Risk Medical Conditions

For instance, if the patient were to have aortic stenosis, a serious medical conditional for anesthesia, the scheduler does not have time to dig into the echo results nor do they have the clinical ability to do that. The scheduling process can then act as a filter for the RN. And the RN acts as an escalation point for the scheduling team.

In this example, your entry level scheduler does not possess the clinical evaluation skill set. The RN focuses more closely on the clinical aspects of the scheduling process that align with the value of their license.

Keeping your Scheduling – On-Schedule

An efficient scheduling funnel moves the patient through your scheduling process down to the most appropriate next skilled staff member.

Old Scheduling Model

In the old model, the RN serves all roles: schedule and review in real time or return later to charts marked as high risk. This unfortunately diverts them away from higher value clinical duties.

New Scheduling Model

In the new model, the RN functions in a much more discrete scheduling roll. She can devote more time to higher value clinical duties, focusing on a small subset of higher risk patients. Some patients could even escalate to the anesthesiologist for review period thus creating a much more focused and filtered process where everyone is working to the appropriate utilization of their skill set.

How Automation Can Make Scheduling Easier

Surgical scheduling automation tools like ProSkedge enable a seamless communication process between your scheduling Department, your nurse, and anesthesiologist to quickly triage high risk patients enable action steps that will keep all stakeholders on the same page and keep your patience moving seamlessly through your scheduling process.

How Can You Navigate Complexity Safely and Effectively?

Moving to new processes, no matter how efficient, can still cause trepidation, especially given the stakes and complexity of the role. Undertaking change with educated caution and clear goals can create significant benefits for your center. So what should you consider when moving away from a highly paid RN resource to a non-RN surgical scheduler?

CHANGE IS HARD – THE HUMAN ELEMENT

First, change even when optimized is never easy. Change brings a natural resistance to it from people. Why? Because we tend to be creatures of habit. We like having things work one way, learning that way, and hope that it never, ever changes. People find alterations to their routines unsettling. Try it yourself – just move your toothbrush to the other side of your bathroom counter for the next week and see how it makes you feel. 

So how can you prepare for that resistance?  First, address change from your stakeholder perspective. Sell the features from their perspective. Lets walk through some examples below. 

Examples include the ability to more easily communicate patients their instructions, eliminating communication fatigue or eliminating our paper based, non-automated process for managing approvals. Essentially, lets eliminate the most menial, repetitive parts of your job, and help you serve your patients better with minimal training and on-boarding time. 

Enter ProSkedge

Mitigating Resource Risks with Powerful Support

ProSkedge mitigates the perceived disadvantages of non-RN surgical schedulers by creating an automation support system to execute your scheduling process efficiently and accurately. Our system walks your non-RN surgical scheduler through your unique process thus decreasing your on-boarding time for any new hires, quickly ramping up your scheduling volume and scheduling quality.

GPS for Your Scheduling Process

We all use GPS on our phones and tablets to help us make it to our destinations. Why? It predicts the road ahead, tells us ahead of time where we need to go, and helps us course correct if we start going down a divergent route. Intelligent systems of automation serve a similar purpose.  Having a guide that can funnel your team down the “best” case scenario of scheduling for each patient leads to happier staff and patients. No one wants to sit around while you figure out what happens next. Your staff and patients deserve a seamless, personalized process.

Correct Location – Maximize Your ASC Slots

Every good GPS guide gets their user to the right location. The same applies to ProSkedge. We help your scheduler automatically select the right location for your patient’s procedure. Your center has a set of policy and procedures likely based on medical history, procedure type, equipment required, and insurance. ProSkedge takes all of this information and configures it into an automated workflow that minimizes the risk of Patient – Location mismatch. Thus allowing your facility to maximize its ASC slots with properly selected patients. 

Medication Management in the Scheduling Process

Many pitfalls exist for error throughout the patient’s journey to the ASC. With increasing prevalence of diabetes and heart disease, comes a corresponding increase in the use of medications treating those conditions. Schedulers must correctly manage your internal protocols for managing these medications, and clearly communicate this information to your patients. Surgery centers lean on RN’s to get this type of complicated process correct. 

Patient’s must know when to start or take certain medications such as bowel preps, Lovenox Bridge, or when to stop others such as blood thinners and insulin. The good news, starting and stopping of these medications fall within standardized guidelines, and therefore surgery centers can leverage ProSkedge’s automation to manage these medications. 

A Web of Approvals 

Managing all stakeholder approvals places a significant challenge on schedulers. Similar to managing numerous backseat drivers, schedulers need a clear set of automated rules to manage approvals from anesthesia, cardiologists, the operating physician themselves, obstetricians if pregnant, and insurance.  A lack of clear operational checks can lead to unnecessary pit stops along the patient’s scheduling journey.  Your center has structured approvals for all of these stakeholders, and ProSkedge automatically generates the correct management system for all of them. Thus keeping your scheduler on task and stakeholder in check with seamless communications. 

Personalized, Adaptable Instructions

Like any good GPS system, your scheduling process should adapt to the individual needs of the traveler without relying on excessive manual intervention. Your schedulers should focus on the patient and their needs, getting the correct information while the system automatically processes that information into a personalized and adaptable roadmap. The patient should receive a finished set of directions personalized to their medical needs without extraneous, unnecessary information. 

ProSkedge’s patent-pending Adapting Instructions improve your liability by creating a living set of instructions that update based on ongoing input from various stakeholders. This ensures that your patients receive the most current and up-to-date instruction sets possible. Thus, your patients get the unparalleled personalized experience that they deserve in our modern information age.

THE BOTTOM LINE

RN’s serve as terrific clinical resources for direct patient care. When utilized for scheduling purposes, they come with a high cost and limited scale. Building a system around a non-RN surgical scheduler can help you achieve great efficiency and clinical care at much lower labor costs. Additionally, it can help redirect your RN resources to work at a maximal level of their license. 

ProSkedge takes this complex surgical process and configures it into its advanced logic engine, creating an automated, sequential scheduling workflow based on your unique scheduling process. This automation manages the entire scheduling process including medical history, medication management, stakeholder approvals, instruction generation and instruction updates based on various inputs from the ongoing approval process. ProSkedge then automatically processes the scheduling information into a set of beautifully designed timeline instructions.

It takes your scheduling process to the next level.

This supercharges a non-RN surgical scheduler resource and maximizes the probability they will make the right decision for your patients. 

For more information on how ProSkedge can supercharge your scheduling, reach out to us below.