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Technology, the key to ending waiting lists

By 04/07/2022July 12th, 2022No Comments

Original article published by Redacción Médica


To stabilize the figures, surgical activity needs to be increased by 10% each year; MYSPHERA’s solution is key

Working on surgical efficiency may be the key to solving the problems of waiting lists in Spanish healthcare. This is one of the ideas put forward by experts such as Antonio Burgueño, director of the Venturi project, who states that in order to “increase the response capacity of the healthcare system, all resources must be combined, regardless of their ownership”.

In fact, the application of technology in healthcare has been slow but constant in recent years. However, this delay has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and measures need to be taken as soon as possible.

Burgueño, whose initiative is designed to analyze the efficiency of the health system and seek solutions to its major problems, is working on this. Waiting lists have been a burden for years, but since 2020 the data are “extremely worrying”. “There has been a constant increase in waiting times for first consultations for specialties since June 2020. In December 2021 there were 2.8 million patients, 300,000 more than in 2019,” says the expert.

Burgueño: “In order to increase the response capacity of the health system, all resources must be combined, regardless of their ownership”.

In addition, he stresses that although the lists appear to be balanced at pre-pandemic levels in the case of surgery, this is not a good figure, given that in 2020 it is estimated that 850,000 surgeries were not performed due to the health crisis. “This is not a trivial issue if we consider that, according to our estimates, during the years 2020 and 2021 there were 1.06 million fewer entries in the waiting lists of the different autonomous communities,” says Burgueño.

We are talking about a significant latent problem for whose resolution it is vital to have technological solutions that increase resources and boost the efficiency of the healthcare system. In fact, Burgueño specifies that the 4,500 operating theatres in Spain should go from an average of 1,166 operations per operating theatre to an average of 1,500. This means increasing their average performance by 30 percent, according to data from the Venturi project.

The distorted reality of waiting lists

Along the same lines, Anna Ochoa de Echagüen Aguilar, an internist, and Marc Sales i Coll, an industrial engineer, both from the consultancy Essentia Health, agree on the “significant impact” of the pandemic on waiting lists. In fact, they point out that the reality of the lists is distorted. “The inclusion of patients has dropped a lot because not only has surgery stopped but also diagnosis has stopped,” they say.

For his part, Burgueño is also concerned about those people who are in the process of being diagnosed, at home without having been seen by a doctor or even knowing they are ill. “On the way to diagnosis, delays can accumulate that can be worrying, depending on the pathology in question. Once this process is complete, the clinician has the patient on their radar, whether for surgery or other therapies being considered,” he says.

How does this delay in waiting lists affect the patient? Undoubtedly, it creates anxiety and worsens their expectations of recovery, says Burgueño. While Ochoa and Sales lament that the lengthening of waiting times “causes a further worsening of the patient’s health, which affects the surgical act as well as their post-surgical recovery, which requires greater attention and care”.

Ochoa and Sales are confident that the pace of surgical activity in 2019 will be recovered, however, they consider it “insufficient” to put an end to this problem. “An increase in this activity would be necessary, surely with the same resources in the number of operating theatres and professionals, to be able to deal with the initial collapse and reduce the total number of patients waiting, many of them outside the guarantee period and, in parallel, to recover all those not yet diagnosed”, they consider.

This is precisely where technology can add up and achieve this extra increase in surgical activity with the available resources. Solutions such as MYSPHERA transform management to reduce the time between operations.

Solutions to put an end to waiting lists

The professionals at the consultancy point to 2024 as the date for “recovering and balancing the surgical waiting lists for all pathologies in Spain”. However, it will be necessary to work hard to achieve this and to increase activity by 10 percent each year.

MYSPHERA has solutions to end waiting lists that can be applied in any healthcare center, with proven results of an increase of more than 12 percent in surgical performance in several European hospitals. Essentia stresses that the performance of operating theatres is worrying and today there are methodologies and technologies that can “make better use of the available hours of these spaces and thus contribute to improving the experience of patients and professionals and be able to reach more people with the same number of operating theatres”.

Ochoa and Sales: “We have the technological solution that tells us in real-time what is happening inside the surgical blocks. This can help in decision-making”.

Specifically, as the experts report, these systems have made operational improvements throughout the patient flow, the flow of communication between professionals or between patient and professional, and greatly improved the logistical flow of products and materials needed to perform surgery with maximum safety, quality, and efficiency.

“We have technological tools that tell us in real-time what is happening within the surgical blocks. This can help in decision making so that we can reliably know how we can increase surgical efficiency,” they explain.

Along the same lines, planning will be essential to anticipate waiting list demand and distribute surgical resources. In this way, they are committed to working as a single team in order to meet the guaranteed deadlines of all patients who are waiting.

Burgueño is of the same opinion, and highlights MYSPHERA’s solutions as “logistical platforms that streamline us to remove bureaucratic work or administrative tasks carried out by healthcare professionals who can thus free up their time and dedicate it to surgical activity and the patient”.