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Recovery of surgical waiting lists in Spain: 20 years to return to normal at current rate, 9 years in best case scenario

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the fight against surgical waiting lists, and this fact is not unknown. At MYSPHERA, we have addressed this worrying situation on numerous occasions, highlighting the urgency of taking immediate action. However, the report “Monitoring Surgical Activity in Spain” provides an even more in-depth analysis of the magnitude of this problem. According to this study by the Venturi Project, between 2020 and 2021, almost 1.9 million interventions will not be performed in Spain. These alarming figures will not be reversed unless surgical performance is increased, and it is estimated that, in the best-case scenario, it will take at least 9 years to restore normality.

Report “Monitoring Surgical Activity in Spain” – Venturi Project

The document concludes that in order to further increase surgical performance and, therefore, recovery times, it is essential to optimize operating theatres. This is precisely where technology plays a fundamental role. Our RTLS-based solution, ORvital, designed to automate the surgical process, is capable of increasing throughput by more than 16%. So if all operating theatres in Spain were equipped with this technology, restoring pre-pandemic waiting list figures would take only 2 years, whereas at the current rate, it would take 20 years.

Highlights from the report “Monitoring Surgical Activity in Spain” developed by Proyecto Venturi

The report, developed by the Venturi initiative aimed at analyzing the efficiency of the healthcare system and seeking solutions to its major problems, shows that before the pandemic, operating theatres in Spanish hospitals experienced constant growth in their activity. In 2019, 5,387,546 surgical interventions were performed, and it was expected that this upward trend would continue. However, the pandemic caused an abrupt contraction, with a decrease of more than half a million operations in just two years. In 2020, surgical activity was down by 1.2 million compared to the previous year, meaning that approximately one in three scheduled surgeries was canceled.

Although a significant recovery in surgical activity was observed in 2021, the pre-pandemic level has not yet been reached. The report highlights that demand pressure from unresolved surgical interventions reached 47% in 2021, compared to 13.09% in 2019. This poses a considerable challenge for health systems, as it is complex to channel the 1.86 million pending surgeries, especially considering that annual activity growths do not exceed 170,000 interventions.

Given these statistics, surgical throughput becomes a key factor in overcoming the impact of the pandemic and accelerating recovery. The report highlights that this performance varies significantly according to the dependency and affiliation of the surgical activity. Operating theatres in private hospitals dedicated to public provision show a higher throughput, with 1,477 surgical interventions performed in 2021, compared to 974 in public hospitals and 1,194 in private centers dedicated mainly to private provision.

In this regard, the report concludes that resolving the backlog of almost 2 million surgical interventions is a challenge in the Spanish healthcare system, which has an estimated maximum capacity of 5.5 million interventions. The average growth is approximately 1.7%, with fluctuations between 0.4% and 3.6%. Projecting these data, it is estimated that in the best-case scenario, it would take 9 years to restore the situation, while in the worst-case scenario, it would take 84 years.

Report “Monitoring Surgical Activity in Spain” – Venturi Project

Accelerated recovery of surgical waiting lists with ORvital

The patient flow streamlining solutions offered by MYSPHERA enable more efficient management of resources and processes in the hospital environment. These solutions go beyond simply locating objects and people, as they are also able to orchestrate and automate clinical processes, resulting in a significant improvement in surgical activity.

An impressive statistic is that thanks to MYSPHERA’s RTLS-based solutions, it is possible to increase surgical activity by more than 16% in one year. This means that taking into account the annual surgical throughput, it would take only two years to return to pre-pandemic normality. This achievement is of utmost importance, considering that the report mentions that, in the best-case scenario, it would take at least nine years to reach normal surgical activity, and if we maintain the current average, it would take 20 years.

In fact, hospitals that have already opted for this solution have seen how this optimization of resources has not only been reflected in surgical efficiency but have also been able to achieve other milestones such as:

🔹 Reduction of the average operating room start time by 35 minutes.

🔹 Reduction of unplanned extensions by more than 50%.

🔹 Increase in the occupancy rate of beds PACU by 30%.

🔹 The average time of manual annotation in HIS of surgical times is 5′. The average of 35 interventions/day is 3 hours/day. With ORvital it is an automatic task.

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