Funded by a combination of National Science Foundation and One North Carolina grants along with private equity, Roundtable Analytics, Inc., offers comprehensive data analytics and consulting for improving emergency department efficiency. With research partnerships with the University of North Carolina and East Carolina University, Roundtable Analytics has grown to address the complete data-needs of emergency department management and administration through its full-spectrum analytics offerings. Below is our interview with Tommy Bohrmann, one of the founders & Director of Statistical Practice at Roundtable Analytics:
Q: Who are the primary users of Roundtable Analytics and what are some of the key challenges you are helping them solve?
A: We are a healthcare analytics, software and consulting company focused on improving emergency department operations and patient flow. Our name actually implies a lot about our users – we see our users as all the different stakeholders who understand and are affected by the challenges of crowding in emergency departments and hospitals. These may be physicians, nurses, administrators, process improvement gurus, business managers, consultants – they all find our innovative analytics software both applicable and accessible.
Our software users face a challenging patient care environment – unscheduled patients arriving, possibly in a life-threatening condition, at their emergency department. Making decisions without data has been the norm, unfortunately, and the resulting lack of efficiency has lead to the excessive wait times everyone has heard about and many have experienced. We support our users across the full-spectrum of analytics, so they first understand their past performance metrics, whether it’s last month or just yesterday, and where improvement is most needed. Then our predictive simulation modeling service enables them to explore numerous management changes and scenarios (such as changes to staffing or what types of patients are treated in what beds). Through predictive analytics they can therefore work to optimize their current resources, articulate additional resource needs to hospital administration, and work to improving patient flow and their bottom line simultaneously.
Q: What is unique about Roundtable Analytics’ technology and how does it stand out from competition?
A: It’s amazing to see how predictive models have improved efficiency for decades in other industries – for example we think about simulation models being used to optimize manufacturing. But these industries are so different from healthcare, and unfortunately to date healthcare has not been positively impacted to nearly the same degree. But we have overcome the challenges of working in healthcare. Our analytics services are always on and up-to-date meaning, for example, that physicians whose primary responsibility is to care for patients can spend just a few minutes either looking at past performance data or even considering management alternatives through simulation modeling.
When used historically, simulation modeling in the emergency department has typically involved months of prep work, collaboration with a systems or industrial engineer, and perhaps a very hefty consulting fee. That’s made simulation modeling far too slow and too costly to inform both routine and even large scale management decisions. Our approach is completely tailored to the needs of emergency medicine and patient flow stakeholders, both in its ease of use as well as the core technology of our simulation models. Our simulation models, individually tailored to each client, take into account all the key processes in emergency medicine, including the care of patients. That means when we simulate patient flow (including patient care) in a Level I Trauma Center, it might look very different from simulations of flow in a smaller community hospital emergency department.
Finally it’s really important to understand that we leverage the data our customer hospitals are already collecting. Using a very simple data extract, and not requiring integration into the live electronic health record system, we deliver our comprehensive analytics. So our analytics can very quickly be up and running from a technical perspective, but the added value, in particular as we leverage the hospital’s existing electronic health record system, is enormous.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your on-demand simulation modeling solution?
A: So using our Emergency Department Strategy Lab, we call it EDSL for short, our users point and click their way to designing, executing and analyzing a simulations of their own department in just a few minutes. Their simulation study might compare several dozen alternative management scenarios — different nurse or provider staffing models, new ways to use some of their beds, etc. — so they can prioritize which management or staffing changes are most needed today.
They start by simulating all the potential changes they are considering (at no risk to their patients or bottom line, of course!) and then they can rank these resulting management plans based on how they will improve patient flow, reduce wait times, and even increase patient revenue or reduce costs. To meet their patients’ needs, emergency department managers are really trying to find an elusive combination of resources in an environment that is open 24/7, changes everyday, and experiences long-term trends and often seasonal effects. It’s incredibly challenging, but with the right data and predictive analytics, we’ve seen incredible success with our partners.
Q: What are your plans for next four months?
A: Our first priority is to continue supporting our emergency department partners as they further optimize their operations. We have been fortunate – our early partners are both dedicated and innovative. It’s been so rewarding to see the wheels turning once they’re finally able to see the data they’ve been lacking for so long. But our partners also feel the pain when gridlock in the entire hospital means patient flow in the emergency department slows down too. So we are working closely with them as we broaden our solutions to address patient flow beyond just the emergency department and through the hospital. Our research and development efforts are happening hand-in-hand with early customers as well as through our National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant funding.
Q: You’ve recently announced that Vidant Medical Center’s main Emergency Department implemented a highly successful nurse staffing initiative using predictive analytics; tell us something more?
A: Vidant Medical Center’s Emergency Department is an academic Level I Trauma Center, a busy and complex place with lots of highly acute patients. Using our software and services, their Emergency Department leadership team was able to identify and then articulate very specific resource needs to hospital administration. And they were granted an additional 17 full-time nurses for their department for 2017.
They were also able to identify and implement an action plan and improve their key metrics in early 2017, just as predicted by their simulations. Compared to late 2016 numbers, their operational changes have improved flow by well more than 10 patients per day during the first few months of 2017 and they have reduced the rate at which patients leave their waiting room before being seen. Incidentally, their success occurred through several consecutive weeks of a very intense flu season, which was really remarkable. It’s a testament to the progress we can make by looking at and using meaningful data.Activate Social Media: