American healthcare is extraordinarily dynamic—with new technologies, government initiatives, structures of healthcare providers, improvement strategies and other potentially transformational initiatives. But as valuable as any of them may be, healthcare optimization will not become a reality unless we can defeat what I call “peak day-related disease.” That's the condition caused by inefficiencies from unnecessary peaks and valleys of patient flow that occur on a regular basis in hospitals across the nation.
Those peaks and valleys are inflicted by the healthcare system itself, not by the patients. The peaks occur for a variety of reasons—doctors' scheduling preferences and inefficient patient flow through the hospital, among others—but they cause over-utilization on some days of the week and under-utilization on others. Hospitals, therefore, have to add beds to accommodate the peaks, even though many of those beds are empty on the other days.