Improving Surgical Outcomes with Technology [Case Study]

To survive in a new environment of value-based care, healthcare institutions have no choice but to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and provide better outcomes. Hospitals at the forefront of innovation are using technology to address these challenges and more.

  • Increase care coordination, transparency, and accountability
  • Improve safety and quality, while minimizing risk
  • Slow the growth of healthcare expenditures 
  • Encourage healthy behavior 
  • Enhance the public health system
  • Increase access and coverage to medical care
  • Address inequalities in patient outcomes
  • Expand access to adequate healthcare services 

Below, we detail a few key technological developments in healthcare, one focuses on the rise of practice management systems to improve surgical efficiency and effectiveness. We’ll close with a case study, reviewing the successful deployment of our own Medtel system at NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital (LOH).

Technological Developments in Healthcare

Electronic Health Records (EHR)

One of the most significant technological developments in recent history was the emergence and widespread adoption of the Electronic Health Record (EHR), which — when used effectively — can have a positive impact on patient outcomes and reduce costs in chronic disease management.

The EHR gained significant traction in 2009 as part of a wider set of Health Information Technology (HIT) tools promoted and incentivized at a federal level. In 2018, EHR incentive programs were renamed “Promoting Interoperability Programs.” Along with the new moniker, the focus has shifted from encouraging widespread adoption of EHR to measuring how well the EHR is promoting interoperability and improving patient access to health information.  

Telehealth

Since the EHR movement, technological advancements have widened in scope and application to focus on reducing costs, increasing consistency, and streamlining processes. 

Telehealth has emerged as a powerful and cost-effective tool to deliver access to state-of-the-art medical resources. While the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are providing virtual urgent care appointments through telehealth tools. 

Also in light of the pandemic, the government has reassessed the rules previously limiting telehealth, announcing that telehealth benefits would be expanded for Medicare beneficiaries. This change will prevent at-risk beneficiaries from entering a healthcare facility where they can be exposed to the infection. The benefits of telehealth expansion will also ease the burden on healthcare facilities, provide continued healthcare to patients remotely, and allow providers to care for the most urgent cases. 

Telehealth is an adaptable access tool which can be used for multiple use cases, including assessment and triage of emergency situations, routine health screenings, mental health visits,  and during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce risk of exposure. In orthopedics in particular, research has shown that patients would use telehealth to reduce cost, time spent traveling, time taken off from work, and to make it easier to attend appointments. 

Robotics

 Robotic technologies are also optimizing cost-effective quality care. Recently, we have witnessed the emergence of robot-assisted surgery that combines the skills of a specially trained surgeon with state-of-the-art robotics.  

Using a robot to perform surgery improves accuracy and precision, and can reduce the human limitation of fatigue. More specifically, studies have shown that robotic spine surgery results in the below:

  • Fewer revision surgeries
  • Lower infection rates
  • Reduced length of stay (LOS)
  • Shorter operative time

Operating room time is a valuable resource for any surgeon or hospital system. Avoiding poor quality indicators such as infections and prolonged time in the OR saves money for everyone. And while robotic technology is expensive and has yet to be embraced worldwide, cumulatively, it results in not just quality improvements — but also cost-effective care.

Consider Care Coordination Tools

Surgical practice management or care coordination systems like Medtel are an emerging technology that streamlines workflows to facilitate proactive care and improve surgical efficiency and effectiveness.

In addition, Medtel’s care coordination application can increase surgical case volumes,  increase revenue while decreasing same-day cancellations and costs, resulting in swift and significant ROI. In fact, depending on your surgical volumes and case mix, Medtel can help drive between $3M and $50M per year to your bottom line.  

Hospitals that implement care coordination systems and, more specifically, surgery management software like Medtel can expect increased efficiency, reduced cost, and overall improved surgical outcomes. Such was the case with NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital.   

Case Study: Medtel & NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital (LOH)

NYU Langone Health’s Orthopedic Hospital (LOH) is part of a large academic medical center located in Manhattan that performs over 20,000 surgical cases per year. With a proactive approach and a commitment to best-in-class care, the team at LOH set out to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the surgical care process. 

Burdened with competing priorities, including a new hospital build, LOH didn’t have the resources to focus on another “technology initiative.”  However, they saw an opportunity at the surgical office to better capture data and facilitate communication with the surgical teams. They hoped to find a solution that could help them accomplish the following:

  • Encourage on-time starts
  • Assess risk earlier
  • Reduce same-day cancellation rates
  • Improve scheduling accuracy

They eventually found Medtel, a solution that could help them do all of these things and more, enhancing efficiencies and advancing surgical care. The team at LOH found particular value in Medtel’s discipline-specific SurgiSciptTM, which acts as a surgical command center and communication hub, facilitating collaboration and informed decision-making among surgeons and staff. 

Medtel’s surgical care coordination system significantly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of LOH, and the team saw the following results:

  • A meaningful ROI (12x)
  • Reduced same-day cancellations from 10% to currently 0% while supporting a surgical case volume increase of 60% 
  • Increased scheduling accuracy of cases from 74% to 89% 
  • Increased on-time starts from 74% to 94% to date
  • Increased patient, physician, and staff satisfaction scores

While new healthcare technology can increase costs in the short-term, the clinical outcomes will outweigh the initial investment. Such is the case with LOH and orthopedics in general, where recent advances in and out of the operating room have improved operational efficiencies, cost-effectiveness, and — most importantly — the quality of care that surgeons and staff are able to provide their patients.

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