Applying predictive analytics to optimize patient scheduling for chemo units

The company’s analytics tools calculates a wide range of factors to optimize patient appointments.

One of healthcare’s pain points is the inevitable bottleneck of patients that occur from infusion centers at cancer treatment facilities, imaging centers, radiology and primary care clinics. The pressure to fit in patients whether they are late, are forced to cancel appointments or units are understaffed puts extra strain on nurses and physicians who frequently have to miss lunch and work overtime to handle the workload.

Predictive analytics company Lean TaaS, thinks its approach can make the case loads more manageable and handle the anticipated influx of patients with health insurance through Obamacare. The company has raised $3 million in its first institutional round of funding led by Sedgwick Claims Management Services to support the roll out of its predictive analytics platform iQueue. It has also received investment from angel investors in the Silicon Valley. Although it sees an opportunity for cancer centers, it believes its analytics tool is relevant to other aspects of healthcare.

The company plans to use the funding to support its growth from 50 staff to about 75-100 in the next 12 months, LeanTaaS President Sanjeev Agrawal said in a phone interview. It will also allocate funding to create a Labs division to develop advanced algorithms for risk analytics.

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He noted the problem is as much about patient access as care coordination, but contends that its iQueue tool offers a way to manage both. “The problem with [current practice] is it is typically first come, first serve. That is the worst way possible of scheduling.”

The company’s analytics tools calculates a wide range of factors to optimize patient appointments. He added: “We look at historical patterns for types of therapy people have come in for. We look at extensive modeling of patient types and impose real world constraints. How many doctors are available? How many nurses? How long is a shift? Are they using these beds for something outside of a chemo unit? Very few of the current options maximize patient efficiency.”

In a case study with Stanford Health Care’s infusion unit, it looked at factors such as the different types of infusion appointments, varying from one hour to nine hours, each group with patient numbers that can fluctuate daily. It also calculates the number of possible appointments.

As a result of using iQueue for one year, the unit was able to manage 25 percent more patients with no negative impact on quality or patient safety, according to the company. Patient wait was cut by 30 percent at peak times. Staff satisfaction improved as well “due to the increased predictability.”

So far, the company’s customer base includes places like UCSF, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Wake Forest Baptist Health and 25 percent of the National Comprehensive Cancer Centers, which used its technology when iQueue was rolled out at the early beta stage and later became paying customers. Agrawal added that chemo infusion units at cancer centers are just the beginning. It envisions its product used anywhere in hospitals where people walk in and wait for their appointment and coping with a heavy caseload. It could be endocrinology, hematology, radiology, as well as surgery.  It expects to make several partnership announcements in the next 12 to 24 months.

Agrawal was Google’s first head of product marketing and subsequently became a serial entrepreneur. He was the CEO of Aloqa (acquired by Motorola) and founder of Collegefeed (acquired by AfterCollege).

LeanTaaS Founder and CEO Mohan Giridharadas previously worked for McKinsey where he spent 18 years. He led the manufacturing and service operations practices in the US and the Asia-Pacific region.

He also led large-scale operational improvement programs at corporations across areas that included healthcare and technology among other areas.

Photo: Flickr user Phil and Pam