Ophthalmologists have always employed the, “Which is better: 1 or 2?” question for determining the best treatment. Now, computer-generated models can use a similar approach to answer basic questions and create the best clinic schedule instead. With an improved schedule, Oregon Health and Science University ophthalmologists saw an increased volume of patient visits, and 80% of the ophthalmologists saw improvement in mean patient wait time with no change observed in examination times.
Simulation modeling, combined with historical data in Epic, let OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute try out modified scheduling processes digitally and choose an optimal method while minimizing disruption for providers and patients. To create their model, researchers used timestamps from two years’ worth of appointments in Epic to simulate the clinical workflow.
The model suggested encounter length was the best predictor of wait times, so OHSU created a scheduling template that ordered appointments using the predicted length of patients’ contact time with physicians and staff, based on the average length of the appointment the patient is scheduled for.