At Electronic Health Reporter, we take innovations from healthcare companies very seriously. For nearly a decade, we’ve featured their work, products, news and thought leaders in an effort to bring our readers the best, most in-depth insight about the organizations powering healthcare. That mission lies at the heart of all we do, for the benefit of our audience.
For the first time, we are officially naming some of the most progressive companies in healthcare technology, in our inaugural class of the best, most innovative brands serving health systems and medical groups. Our call for nominations for this “award” series received hundreds of submissions. From these, we selected the best companies from that class. The work these organizations are doing is forward-thinking; award-worthy, we think. We think you’ll agree with all of our choices.
In each of the profiles to come in this series, we’re share their stories — from their own perspective, through their own responses to our questions about what makes them remarkable. Some of the names featured here you’ll recognize, some you won’t. But we believe you’ll agree – all those profiled are doing innovative, groundbreaking work! That said, here’s a member of our inaugural class:
What is the single-most innovative technology you are currently delivering to health systems or medical groups?
The LeanTaaS iQueue platform uses lean principles, machine learning, and predictive analytics to digitally transform core operational processes in healthcare.The software increases patient access to medical care by optimizing how health systems use expensive, constrained resources. The iQueue platform applies advanced data science to historical EHR data to improve patient flow and operational efficiency without adding staff, hours or capital investment.
How is your product or service innovating the work being done in these organizations to provide care or make systems run smoother?
LeanTaaS currently has two products in market:
- iQueue for Infusion Centers — a lightweight, cloud-based SaaS solution that helps flatten chair utilization throughout the day to increase patient access, decrease wait times, improve nurse satisfaction, and reduce infusion delivery costs.
- Decrease wait times by as much as 50% at peak to significantly increase patient satisfaction
- Provide access to as many as 20%+ more patients without adding facilities, staff or operating hours
- Reduce overtime hours by as much as 50%
- Increase staff satisfaction by leveling nurse and staff workload
- Delay the need for investment in additional chairs and new infrastructure
- Increase per chair annual revenue by as much as $20,000
- Amplify the business impact of EMR, BI and Lean/Six Sigma investments that providers have already made
- iQueue for Operating Rooms — a lightweight, cloud-based SaaS solution thatunlocks OR capacity so more cases can be performed in the same number of ORs without extending business hours.
- Increase access – Find time for surgeons wanting more OR access
- Right-size blocks – Collect and make available the right set of underutilized blocks to surgeons needing more time or to attract new surgeons
- Engage surgeons with credible performance metrics – Current, objective and credible reporting easily accessed through either mobile or desktop browser creates a “single source of truth”
What is the primary need fulfilled by the product or service?
Healthcare reform, an aging population, and a higher incidence of chronic disease have caused the demand for healthcare services to escalate quickly. At the same time, pressure from payers to eliminate waste requires that healthcare providers do more with less to meet this skyrocketing demand with the resources in which they have already invested. LeanTaaS helps hospitals and health systems improve the utilization of constrained, expensive resources by better matching supply with demand.
What is the ROI of said product or service? Provide real examples of verifiable ROI of the product or service when used in or by a health system or medial group. Provide specific examples of implementation and outcomes use cases.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, LeanTaaS and Novant Health implementation teams collaborated remotely to bring 139 operating rooms across 23 locations online and to train 1,300 surgeons, clinic team members, operating room leadership and operating room schedulers on the application in just four weeks. Historically, hospital software implementations across multiple locations take six months or more.
Novant Health selected iQueue for Operating Rooms to not only assist in the recovery of elective surgery volume post COVID-19 but, more importantly, to also provide greater visibility and transparency into operating room performance metrics needed to optimize the use of operating room time across its surgical locations.
“We are excited to utilize iQueue for our operating rooms because it gives us access to data that we previously did not have,” said Leslie Barrett, president and chief operating officer of Novant Health Medical Park Hospital, and Novant Health system vice president of surgical and anesthesia services. “iQueue enables us to have a better understanding of our true capacity and where we have opportunities to optimize our operating room utilization.”
LeanTaaS began data onboarding, implementation and training at Novant Health in April and launched the platform remotely by the end of May. The platform’s success was notable:
- Within three days of launching, 34% of participating surgeons, clinics and surgical team members actively used the system to release block time, request open time for elective cases, and gain greater visibility into their historical operating room metrics.
- Within four days of launching, surgeons and clinics made 225 requests for 25,000 operating room minutes outside of block time — time which might have historically gone unused because the surgeons might not have known it was available.
- Surgeons released 102 blocks, which equates to 27,000 operating room minutes for other surgeons to access and use.
- Surgeons set 71 “availability alerts” which translates into pent-up demand for operating room time that is not yet available. The releasing, requesting and monitoring of time all occurred without multiple phone calls between operating room scheduling, surgeons, patients and clinics.
“At Novant Health, we’re committed to leveraging technology to make the healthcare experience easier for our patients and partners,” said Jason Bernd, president of Novant Health Charlotte Orthopedic Hospital. “Our physician partners and their offices are excited that this technology helps make finding venues to care for their patients simpler and more streamlined.”
Who are some of the clients and organizations served by the company. Name them.
- University of Colorado Health (UCHealth)
- Stanford Health Care
- Duke University Health System
- Novant Health
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Roswell Park Cancer Center
- University of California San Francisco Health
- USC Keck School of Medicine
- City of Hope Cancer Center
- MultiCare Health
- Renown Health
- Oregon Health & Science University
- Parkview Medical Center
- NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
- Dignity Health
- Penn Medicine
How has the innovation advanced the field of healthcare or the practice of care?
By using predictive analytics and machine learning, health systems and hospitals are able to make data-driven decisions instead of using obsolete metrics, outdated communications methods (hallway conversations, faxes, sticky notes), politics or “gut feel.”
How is the innovation changing lives — specifically?
In the case of cancer patients, iQueue for Infusion Centers helps keep their scheduled appointments on track so they do not spend hours in the waiting room. For infusion nurses, it means having a more manageable day with more opportunities to spend more time with patients and to actually get a lunch break. For surgeons, iQueue for Operating Rooms provides an objective, data-driven approach to assessing their performance and gives them access to open time available for their use with a single click. For perioperative business managers, it means having actionable metrics upon which to evaluate surgeon performance to ensure expensive OR time is not wasted. For patients, it means being able to schedule their care sooner.
What is the company’s go-forward strategy? What’s next, which problem is the organization working on now, and in the future?
LeanTaaS has completed proof-of-concept projects in diagnostic imaging, phlebotomy and pharmacy departments. In addition, the company continues work on using a similar data-driven approach to address length-of-stay. Ultimately, LeanTaaS envisions being at the center of a predictive analytics and machine learning-based command center for hospitals.
What are the most significant lessons learned by delivering the innovation, product or service to health systems or medical groups?
Healthcare’s math is broken, and previous attempts to fix it have failed. For example:
- Take a 35-chair infusion center that operates eight hours per day treating five types of appointments: one hour, two hours, three to five hours, six to eight hours, or nine or more hours. Assume four sets of patients can start their treatment at 10-minute intervals. That’s 256 possible start times or “slots” per day. The number of possible ways these patient appointments can be arranged is a number with over 100 zeros behind it. By comparison, if you were to use one-gallon milk jugs to hold all of the oceans’ water, the number of jugs needed would have 40 zeros behind it. There is simply no way to arrive at optimal scheduling templates using a spreadsheet.
- At any given hospital, upwards of 80% of the time in the OR can be locked into long-term block ownership. If an institution wants to ensure that its block allocation is well-balanced, right-sized, and up to date, they need access to powerful corrective mechanisms. Most institutions today, however, rely on outdated metrics like block utilization, first case on-time starts, and turnover time as the metrics for making corrective allocation decisions. Instead, iQueue for Operating Rooms uses a new metric – collectable time – that instead focuses on chunks of unused time that could have been used by another surgeon had she/he known it was available. For example, comparing the utilization of surgeon A with four full blocks a month but who only uses three of them every month versus surgeon B with four full blocks a month who only uses 75% of each day would seem to suggest their utilization is identical. However, a scheduler could easily schedule cases for the full block abandoned by surgeon A; it is less clear that additional cases could be slotted into the 25% of each day that goes unused by surgeon B. The solutionhelps hospital administrators unlock operating room capacity by giving them an easy way to discover block time that has been over-allocated to individual, group or service-level block owners and empowers them with data-driven evidence to make defensible decisions in taking this block time away from those underperforming block owners.
Feel free to provide actual testimony from a user regarding the product and how it has solved a problem, created efficiency or improved processes at the point of care.
Duke Health (DUHS) deployed iQueue for Operating Rooms to gain efficiencies in scheduling and overall operating room management, drive higher utilization (ultimately “doing more with less”), and enable a more data-driven culture. In addition, Duke Health sought more transparency and access to actionable data through the use of predictive analytics and cloud-based software integrated directly with their EHRs.
On Jan. 7, 2020, Duke Health reached its one-year anniversary of being live with iQueue for Operating Rooms,a lightweight, cloud-based SaaS solution that uses predictive analytics and machine learning to digitally transform core operational processes in operating rooms (ORs). The solutionunlocks OR capacity so more cases can be performed in the same number of ORs without extending business hours.
DUHS saw tremendous engagement:
- More than 2 million minutes of pre-assigned OR time were released by surgeons far in advance so others could then have access to the time and schedule cases.
- More than 1 million minutes of OR time were requested by surgeons who otherwise did not have allocated block time on those days.
- Nearly 500,000 minutes were transferred directly between surgeons allowing the OR staff advance notice of who was going to use the time and reducing the workload of schedulers.
- 55% of all released time was then requested in iQueue.
- More than 1,000 DUHS staff are registered to use iQueue.
The results of that engagement were significant:
- More than 3% improvement in health system OR utilization. Generally speaking, a 1% utilization improvement in a single OR can yield up to $500,000 in OR revenue annually.
- Increased patient access to the OR by completing eight additional elective cases during a normal business day.
- Better use of time in a planned manner led to a large overall efficiency gain in day-to-day operations and happier surgeons having access to more OR time.
For the record, none of the recipients of this award paid for the honor of being named one of healthcare’s most innovative companies.