Vicki G. Harrison, CEO, Optimium Health
A typical, moderately accommodated hospital in the US undertakes approximately 100 to 150 operations on a daily basis. Care providers start preparing patients for surgery at least 10 days prior to the day of the operation and continue post-surgical follow-up up to two weeks after the procedure is completed. Caregivers schedule surgeries considering the medical status of the patient and the anesthesia to be administered at the time of the operation. Besides assuring that patients have all appropriate tests and procedures, preparing equipment for surgeries and obtaining the necessary medical and financial clearances, caregivers focus on educating the patient about the nature of the operation and how to adapt to their health conditions after the procedure. However, if a patient’s health deteriorates or one of the above mentioned procedures, tests or clearances are missed on or before the day of surgery, the entire schedule is upset, giving way to a huge financial loss for the hospital. Aiming to eliminate missed steps, lack of transparency and inefficiencies that cause case cancellations, delays and loss of revenue, Optimium Health was formed. Led by Vicki G. Harrison, and Mark Stega, M.D., the company improves interoperability, operational efficiency, and improved communication among staff at caregiver organizations via its perioperative workflow management software, OPTIMI$ER™.
“OPTIMI$ER is not a substitute for Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems; contrarily, it has been designed to complement the capabilities of these systems,” explains Vicki, Co-Founder and CEO at Optimium. OPTIMI$ER extracts data from EHRs, Scheduling and Lab systems that assist clinicians, support staff, and financial administrators at a care organization in improving the workflow of the operational process by eliminating errors while scheduling surgeries. Users can access OPTIMI$ER on a web interface, which is linked to a server that is equipped to maintain user dashboards that are configurable by the user to accommodate their way of working. Rules based on those set forth by the healthcare organization are imbedded into OPTIMI$ER, providing guidance that is pushed to those doing the work.
For instance, in case a patient over 50 years of age is diagnosed with a cardiac ailment and is required to have a cardiac clearance in addition to the existing general medical clearance, users are able to view procedural prerequisites with their operation schedules on the OPTIMI$ER dashboard. “The operation scheduling system is linked to the dashboard, which displays the patient information and their current medical conditions,” states Dr. Stega, Co- Founder, COO at Optimium.
The surgical scheduling system is linked to the dashboard, which displays the patient demographics along with the medical conditions of each
Vicki reveals that the team at Optimium has observed major issues with breakdowns in the workflow, lack of transparency and inefficiency while working closely with its clients. Optimium’s experts attain an in-depth understanding of how clients handle and transfer patient information across different departments and caregivers and accordingly improve the effectiveness of the staff interaction between departments, people and systems.
Dr. Stega describes one instance where Optimium assisted a perioperative department in improving coordination among teams within different departments within surgical services. Traditionally, the staff (primarily RN’s and NP’s) faxed information from one department to another, resulting in delayed scheduling of surgical procedures and increase in inefficiency. Optimium implemented OPTIMI$ER within the client’s existing infrastructure with no disruption or changes to existing EMR, or scheduling system. Due to the ability to integrate with their existing systems, OPTIMI$ER was able to provide real-time patient schedule changes, allowing staff to always no when a schedule moved and action needed to be taken to assure case could go on time. Schedule changes are updated on the dashboard, enabling nurses to keep track of the number of patients ready for surgery as well as the ones who were removed from the schedule.
Currently, Optimium is working on two expansions to the OPTIMI$ER workflow application. The first is an electronic board to replace the old “grease board”. The OPTIMI$ER OR Manager will provide all information on a case by case basis to large screens located strategically in and associated with the surgical suites. It will update all data associated with each case to include staff, special equipment, etc. The second application is OPTIMI$ER™ for Medical Oncology Infusion Centers. Focusing on readying the patient for infusion similar to the processes associated with readying a patient for surgery. “We will continue to focus on improving medical workflow tools and interaction among the departments in care organizations to enhance care delivery and improve the financial well-being of those organizations,” concludes Vicki.