January, 2008
Juggling Routine
Scheduling Central
Recent Update

Alabama surgical practice uses Web-based scheduling technology [SurgiScheduler's SGS] to achieve incredible annual savings by leveraging surgeons' availability.

Introduction: What Works Awards: Best of the Best
The best healthcare IT case histories
By Robin Blair, Editor, and Karin Lillis, Managing Editor

Health Management Technology (HMT) is known for its case histories. We believe, editorially, that nothing highlights the real usability of healthcare IT products like customers who will stand up for those products and let their stories be told. "What Works" is a specialized case history format that focuses upon IT solutions that demonstrate quantifiable results.

Every year, HMT publishes between 15 and 25 What Works case histories. At the end of the year, we impanel up to seven judges selected from within the healthcare IT industry to read all the What Works articles published that year and to determine for us the top three winners.

With pleasure and pride, we present the winners of the 2003 What Works Awards competition...All winners, healthcare organizations and vendors deserve commendation for their success in 2003.

Birmingham Surgical PC
Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham Surgical PC (BSPC) is a general surgery group practice with five surgeons who practice at four different surgical locations, representing a weekly volume of 75 cases. These cases were organized by four nurse schedulers, one at each office.

Juggling Routine
BSPC surgical scheduling tasks were, at best, cumbersome and, at worst, a financial drain on the small surgical group. Nurse schedulers were armed with only a primitive desktop scheduling tool that relied on Excel. Each day, they would receive multiple phone calls or would meet with the surgeons to review daily surgical schedules. The nurse schedulers had to manually juggle and analyze a variety of data, with the ultimate goal of identifying each surgeon’s availability to leverage their time and resources.

An audit of nurse scheduler’s time revealed that they were spending, on average, 35 hours a month on non-productive scheduling tasks, which led to increased personnel costs. BSPC also wanted to leverage the five surgeons’ time better. It was important to coordinate surgeons’ schedules to make them available to assist on another, or they would need to hire a surgical assistant at a cost to the surgical group of about $500 per surgery.

Scheduling Central
BSPC adopted WebScheduler Surgical Group Scheduler [now called SurgiScheduler’s SGS] from Lafayette, Calif. This customizable Web and PDA-accessible practice management offering allows BSPC to streamline not just scheduling, but also surgical assists, surgical consults, rounding lists, vacation, conferences, and call schedules.

The initial implementation was launched in August 2002, and within a month, BSPC was using the SGS Calendar exclusively. It was not long before the schedulers became adept at the intuitive procedures to post additions and changes to the BSPC Calendar—so comfortable that several enhancements soon were added, especially in the area of reporting, because nurse schedulers saw additional opportunities to improve the organization’s results.

Cost criterion was met with a minimum upfront, first-year investment: an initial $300 licensing fee and a quarterly $750 fee for a total first year investment of $3,300. [BSPC was our development partner. The normal set up fee depending on the size of the practice ranges from $550 to $1850. Typical first year costs range from 3,300-6,500.]

With all scheduling tasks centralized [through web software], nurse schedulers’ time has been reduced, and there is no longer the need to drive from location to location to keep the schedules correct. Base on original projections, BSPC reduced nurse schedulers’ unproductive time by 35 hours a month—in effect, eliminating all of the unproductive hours first noted in its audit. At $18 an hour, this represents an annual savings of $7,560 for a nurse scheduler’s time.

BSPC dramatically exceeded its own objectives in better leveraging surgeons’ time and schedules so they can assist each other in surgery, rather than incurring costs for surgical assistants. Instead of the 10 percent reduction in using surgical assistants originally targeted, BSPC achieved almost a 30 percent reduction. This means that BSPC was able to arrange its surgeons’ schedules so they can assist one another an average of 25 surgeries of 75 surgeries per month. At a $500 per case surgical assist fee, this represents $12,500 per month in savings, or $150,000 in savings annually. In just the first year, with a total investment of $3,300, BSPC added an extra $150,000 in gross charges, or a gross ROI of 45 times its investment. Top

Recent Update
“Things are continuing to run smoothly,” sums up Brian Lasker, administrator for BSPC. The practice has implement a small update to the system, but no new major components have been added in the last year.

NOTE: SGS works in conjunction with and as a valuable addition to existing practice management systems. While BSPC uses MYSIS Healthcare, SGS can be used with Medical Manager, GE / Millbrook, and a variety of other systems.


Main News Page
Original What Works Article
Best of What Works: Judges' Criteria

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