The number of people seeking healthcare services is expected to swell as the population ages, more people develop chronic conditions and more people gain insurance coverage. The number of doctor visits could increase as much as 80% over the next 10 to 15 years. But at the same time, growth in the nursing and physician workforce is unlikely to keep pace. That means healthcare providers will need to work more efficiently with the resources they already have.
One area ripe for improvement is the scheduling process.
LeanTaas, a 6-year-old company based in Santa Clara, Calif., employs sophisticated algorithms and Lean process-improvement principles to help providers manage workflow. “We're not doing clinical optimization, but we're trying to do operational excellence,” said Mohan Giridharadas, the company's founder and CEO.
The company compares the problem to a game of Tetris, where different size blocks drop down at random and must be aligned into neat rows. The blocks represent different types of appointments and the randomness reflects the way patients are currently scheduled: as they call in. The goal is to eliminate the gaps between blocks to get the best fit.
LeanTaas begins its work with a client by analyzing a number of workflow issues, such as previous utilization patterns, physician preferences, bed availability, seasonality and whether there are clinical trials or other special circumstances. Its iQueue software then uses predictive analytics to create scheduling templates for each day of the week. The technology also self-corrects over time as it generates its own data.
Providers can integrate the software with their electronic health record systems so their scheduling workflow does not change.
LeanTaas got its start working with large manufacturers on supply-chain challenges but zeroed in on healthcare over the past two years. Now its clients include large health systems and cancer centers, such as Stanford Health Care, Vanderbilt Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and the University of California at San Francisco.
The company says its software is delivering 21% more patient volume, 30% shorter waits and 50% less staff overtime. “If you can solve one-third of the problem by better math, that's a big deal,” said Sanjeev Agrawal, president of LeanTaas Healthcare. “You don't need more operating rooms; you don't need more infusion chairs.”