Surgical waiting lists are one of the main problems of the Spanish public health system. According to the latest report from the Ministry of Health, on 31 December 2021, there were 704,106 patients awaiting non-urgent surgery, with an average delay of 115 days. These figures represent a 9.4% increase in the number of patients and a 3.4% decrease in the average delay compared to the previous year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on surgical waiting lists, causing the suspension or delay of many scheduled operations due to the need to prioritize care for infected patients. In addition, the pandemic has generated a greater demand for care due to the sequels it has left in many patients.
Public measures for reducing surgical waiting lists
Faced with this situation, some autonomous communities have announced measures to reduce surgical waiting lists and guarantee citizens’ right to health. These measures usually include hiring more healthcare staff, extending operating theatre hours, carrying out operations on weekends and public holidays, and referring patients to subsidized clinics.
- Castilla-La Mancha has implemented a strategic plan to reduce delays, which includes the recruitment of more staff, the extension of surgery hours and referrals to subsidised centres.
- Castilla y León has approved a decree that establishes a maximum waiting time for non-urgent surgery of 180 days and provides for referrals to subsidised centres or to other autonomous communities if this period is exceeded.
- Catalonia has announced a shocking plan to reduce surgical waiting lists, which includes the recruitment of 1,500 health professionals, the extension of surgery hours and referral to subsidised centres.
These measures are necessary and positive, but they may not be sufficient if they are not accompanied by an improvement in the management and organisation of healthcare processes. In this sense, the automation and orchestration of processes can be key tools for optimising the use of available resources, increasing efficiency and quality of care and improving patient experience and satisfaction.
The fundamental role of technology in healthcare management must be emphasized. Digital tools are increasingly present in day-to-day healthcare work. But beyond being a complement, they can be the pillar on which to base the optimization and efficiency of processes. An application whose direct consequence is the contribution of value to both professionals and patients.
In this sense, process automation solutions designed for the healthcare sector can be a great ally in improving the performance and quality of surgical services.
The key to true automation: Real-time Location (RTLS)
The only way to truly eliminate manual tasks when orchestrating processes and to be able to say that they are automated is through real-time patient location. In this way, we can coordinate the staff around the patients depending on their situation in the care process.
By means of wristbands, the position of patients within the hospital is calculated, which facilitates the control and management of care flows, the automation of processes and tasks, and the integration with health information systems. This can improve coordination between healthcare professionals, reduce waiting times and delays, increase the number of interventions performed, and improve patient safety and satisfaction.
Among the automation solutions available on the market, ORvital, our solution specifically designed for the surgical environment, stands out. ORvital is able to orchestrate, automate and simplify tasks in the surgical suite so that professionals can focus on what matters most: the patients.
ORvital has proven to be a key factor in increasing surgical performance in several European hospitals. In fact, a scientific paper published by the UK College of Physicians highlighted ORvital’s success in increasing surgical throughput by 12%, increasing the number of surgeries by 15%, reducing the start time of surgeries by 35 minutes and reducing unplanned prolongations of surgeries by 50%.
In conclusion, RTLS-based solutions designed for the healthcare environment can be a very useful tool to reduce surgical waiting lists and improve the quality of care. By choosing an RTLS solution that is tailored to the specific needs of the surgical environment, hospitals can ensure that they get the maximum benefit from their investment.