Reducing Patient Waiting Time at an Ambulatory Surgical Center

Reducing Patient Waiting Time at an Ambulatory Surgical Center

David Ben-Arieh (Kansas State University, USA) and Chih-Hang Wu (Kansas State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-872-9.ch012
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Abstract

This chapter describes a methodology to reduce patient waiting time in a for-profit ambulatory surgical center. Patients in this facility are scheduled in advance for the various operations, and yet operations start late, last longer than expected creating undesired delays. Although this facility is limited to ambulatory surgery, it provides a large number of different surgeries, which are scheduled using “block” scheduling approach. The methodology presented generates a more accurate schedule by creating better time estimates for the operations and with lower variability. The effect of sequencing the surgeries, such that the ones with lower variability are performed earlier in the day, is also discussed.
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Introduction

This chapter describes a methodology that reduces patient waiting time in a for-profit ambulatory surgical center. Patients in this facility are scheduled in advance for the various operations, and yet operations start late, or last longer than expected creating undesired delays. The facility is of small size having the potential capacity of 30 hours of surgery scheduled in any given day.

Currently, surgeries are scheduled by a scheduler using the “block” scheduling approach. Although the facility is limited to ambulatory surgery, we counted about 300 different surgery types, with a staff of quite a few surgeons. Using the block scheduling approach each group of doctors who utilizes the surgery center are assigned one or more half-day blocks in which they can schedule any procedure at anytime, given that no other doctor is using that time slot. As the doctors call in and request an operation room, the scheduling nurse allots an amount of time for each surgery based on previous experience. However, the combinations of surgeries and physicians are quite large, adding to the variability that is a part of the process, making the nurse’s estimates quite inaccurate.

The objective of this chapter is to present a method that will create a more accurate scheduling by increasing the accuracy of the operations’ time estimates, reducing the variability in the operations and sequencing the operations in a more effective manner.

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