Improved Scheduling in a for Profit Surgical Center

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Lean/Six Sigma

David Ben-Arieh
Kansas State University

John Wu
Kansas State University

Improving customer service is an important objective in a for-profit surgical center. This project reduces patient waiting time by 40% by improving the schedule. The improved schedule utilizes an analysis of procedures time variability, pushing higher variability procedure and doctors as late as possible. A simulation experiment validates the results.

This project helps to reduce patient waiting time in a surgical center. The scheduling at the center provides a trade-off between utilization of the operating rooms and patient waiting time. Scheduling the surgeries is traditionally performed by a scheduler who allocates times based on past experience. In this work we measured the discrepancy between the time allocated and the actual time required. Then we reduced the difference by generating a more consistent Standard Operating Time table. This was done by clustering procedure/doctor combinations with similar times together. This standardized time can provide the base for effective schedule. Moreover, we identified operations and physicians with high variability and generated a recommended schedule in which these procedures are performed as late as possible in the day. A simulation study demonstrates a 40% reduction in patient waiting time and a 13% reduction in patient flow time. This allows in effect to increase the capacity of the center by more than one additional surgery a day per operating room while improving customer service and satisfaction.