Cost minimization in endoscopy center scheduling: a case-controlled study.
BACKGROUND: Traditional endoscopy center scheduling often results in nonurgent inpatient endoscopic procedures being delayed until late in the day and can prolong length of hospital stay and costs. We report the first controlled study designed to evaluate the effect of an early morning fast-track triage endoscopy unit on the cost and length of stay of a general GI inpatient population. METHODS: A case-control methodology matched a cohort of patients undergoing morning triage procedures with historical controls that underwent standard add-on scheduling endoscopy. Outcome indices and patient quality of care measures were compared between cases and controls. RESULTS: Analysis of patients most likely to benefit from rapid endoscopy showed significant advantage comparing fast-track endoscopy patients to controls in time to endoscopy (0.63 vs. 1.00 days, P = 0.01), length of stay (1.22 vs. 1.78 days, P = 0.05), and hospital costs (2,793 dollars vs. 3,586 dollars, P = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: When routine endoscopy is the rate-limiting step for hospital discharge in the general GI patient, early morning scheduling with a reserved time and space for inpatient endoscopy is a cost-minimizing factor in a busy endoscopy center that may save significant hospital costs while preserving optimal patient outcomes.
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