Sometimes, to get what you want, you have to jump in and get your hands dirty...
It’s been a month since my last post, a series of posts dealing with ‘what ifs’ and some simple simulations dealing with scheduling OR cases. During that time I’ve been giving feedback on the alpha version of the scheduling software to the company developing the program. It’s a nice arrangement. I send them 3 to 6 bug reports a day (sometimes a lot more) and a few suggestions for features or how to implement some of their current features–they find the bugs, take some of my suggestions–and the cycle begins again. I’m happy to say they’re a great group of people and will have a great product. I’ve joked with friends about having my software development subdivision without all the hassle or need to pay salaries. The software company probably jokes about having a OCD bug finder and consultant who they don’t need to pay. It’s a nice relationship. They do the software…I help keep it real.
My spending hours a days ‘hacking’ the alpha has helped me get the features I need. I dare say that without me dedicating that time for feedback, the program may not have been suitable for my purposes. The ‘simulation’ posts from last month used the initial features once they were stable. It took another month to work out the bugs and ‘flow’ for a system that can be actively used every day in the OR to adapt and optimize the schedule on the fly. That was the hard part–developing a way of getting the information to people in a timely manner in a form that could confidently and routinely be used. By comparison, the initial simulations were a cinch.
Developing a system for scheduling takes a lot of trial and error–creating and destroying systems and work flow to arrive at something that is powerful, adaptable, gives instant feedback, and augments the knowledge one intrinsically possesses. When I think of people using ‘meeting-room schedulers’ to run an OR….I cringe. It’s like using an abacus instead of a spreadsheet.
Own the OR…
Would changing the block time for certain surgeons improve the flow of the OR? …no problem. I can reliably tell what would happen with resources and flow when altering block times, and I can implement them.
Are certain equipment, surgeons, nurses or anesthetists assets or liabilities? …no problem. It will show up on the graphs and other analysis.
Can simple changes be made to minimize personnel deficiencies and work with their strengths? …the possible changes will be much more apparent now.
What’s the marginal cost and revenue for doing this case? ..no problem.
The list goes on.
The only caveat is that ‘political’ motivations for decisions will also stand out. Is this a good thing? That’s your call.