Is your hospital leaving $50 million on the table every year?

With all the talk about over-testing, work redundancy, bureaucratic obstacles and fraud, the national discussion over waste in healthcare seems to be missing one crucial element.

The value of Time.

Wasted time is the sludge in the healthcare system which keeps hospital emergency departments overcrowded and needy patients waiting in hallways.

It’s the reason acutely ill or injured patients are turned away from an advanced care hospital during the golden hour when optimal care can mean life or death.

It’s a big reason why operating rooms go overtime and still fall far short of being used to their maximum.

Because so much is still done manually in hospitals, time is wasted at virtually every step of the patient experience, from check in to discharge.

To get an idea of what this means, imagine 20 cars lined up at a stoplight. When the light turns green, the first driver takes three seconds to react, then pulls out. The second driver takes five seconds. The third is day dreaming and takes seven seconds. This happens down the line until the light once again turns red, leaving cars 15 through 20 to wait through another light.

But imagine if every car simultaneously moved automatically through some new electronic gizmo dreamed up in Detroit or Tokyo. Most likely every car would get through the light.

Now imagine a line of patients waiting to get into, and treated by, their local hospital. Every day when the light turns red, scores of patients are still waiting to get in. It is this cascading loss of time that keeps hospitals from operating at full capacity, so they can’t treat as many cases in a given day, week, month or year. The cost to those hospitals is enormous.

For TeleTracking clients who have automated the patient logistics process, the benefit of extracting that wasted time ranges from $30-$50 million per year in additional cases. That’s revenue they will need to counter belt-tightening under the Affordable Care Act. That’s revenue that is being left on the table because too few policy-makers and healthcare administrators are noticing it.

But it can mean the difference between staying autonomous or being acquired, or even staying open or being closed.

The Institute of Medicine says 30 cents of every medical care dollar is wasted. That totals $750 billion per year. We calculate that 10 cents on the dollar, or $250 billion, is the result of wasted time.

If you want to talk about the value of time in healthcare, that’s a good starting point.


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