- There is limited published evidence investigating the implementation of technology-enabled scheduling systems to optimise theatre scheduling.
- Our NHSScotland survey demonstrates a large variation in theatre scheduling practices across health boards.
- The use of a technology-enabled theatre scheduling system may improve the consistency and efficiency of theatre scheduling. Potential benefits of an automated system include:
- reduced patient cancellations and waste
- enhanced data analysis capabilities.
- The challenges of introducing an automated system include:
- anxiety and resistance to change among staff.
- concerns about inadequate training, technical skills, and funding
- potential safety risks arising from data breaches, inadequate training, and support.
- technical risks.
- Our independent evaluation of the Infix® theatre scheduling technology in NHS Lothian provided some evidence that the technology can increase operating theatre efficiency. Within ophthalmology, throughput of patients per session increased from four to five (an increase of 26%) and throughput per hour increased by 25% after the implementation of Infix®. For ENT, operating session utilisation increased following the implementation of Infix®, though this did not translate into increased patient throughput. In the maxillofacial and plastics specialities, there were no significant changes in theatre efficiency.
- Further data collection must accompany the roll out of a technology-enabled theatre scheduling system within Scotland, aligned to the Infix® evaluation. These data will help ensure that the potential value of the new system is realised.
What were we asked to look at?
The Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG) was asked by the Accelerated National Innovation Adoption (ANIA) collaborative to review the evidence on the use of technology-enabled theatre scheduling systems.
Why is this important?
As set out within the NHSScotland Recovery Plan 2021–26, it is vital that the backlog of care in acute and elective services is addressed in order to minimise risk to patients and reduce pressure on people and services across the health and care system.
The optimisation of theatre capacity is identified within the Recovery Plan. Technology-enabled theatre scheduling systems provide an opportunity to automate and more efficiently schedule theatre time, with a view to increasing patient throughput and minimising ‘downtime’ associated with staff and theatre resource.
The Accelerated National Innovation Adoption (ANIA) collaborative