Archive July 2017 XVIII, No. 7

Business Advisor: Ready to Tackle Block Time

A fair-and-square approach to block scheduling your surgeons will love.

Kathy Beydler

Kathy Beydler, RN, MBA, CASC, CNOR


time surgeons requested MIRROR IMAGE? How does the time surgeons requested compare with the time they've historically used?

Block time. Most of your surgeons want it, but you might not be so sure how to dole it out equitably and efficiently. Done correctly, block time can bring order to the chaos of the typical OR, drive revenue and satisfy your surgeons. Done poorly, block time can create scheduling nightmares, reduce your case volume and rankle surgeons. From someone who has experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of block scheduling, here are 6 tips for doing it tight.

1Take requests. Not all surgeons will want or need block time at your facility. Ask your docs what days and times they'd prefer block scheduling. 0730 start times are, of course, going to be the most popular and everybody will want to operate on Tuesdays. Then take it one step further and run those days and times by each surgeon's scheduler, who'll likely have a better sense of how reasonable the doc's request is.

2Crunch the numbers. Assess each surgeon's current utilization over a 6- to 12-month period, a timeframe wide enough to account for vacations and fluctuations in the schedule. Remember that doctors love numbers and will challenge any data you give them. You can run a monthly utilization report from your scheduling system or manually count the hours a physician spent in the OR.

3Compare requested time with time actually used. Compare the actual time a surgeon used to his requested block time. For a visual comparison, make a block template that lists each day and time that the surgeon requested and what he has actually used. Not surprisingly, you'll probably find that the surgeon has requested more time than he has used, or historically can use. Use this data to illustrate to the surgeons the difference in the time a surgeon has requested and the time he's likely to actually use. The goal is to mirror block time with time used (see "Drawing Up a Winning Schedule").

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