Startup Stories: Whiteboard Coordinator Reduces Healthcare Costs with Improved Efficiency
Despite the world’s march toward ever-greater efficiency, healthcare has actually become less productive over the last two decades. This is largely due to operational inefficiency; people and associated resources are not working as effectively as they can, and so costs and stress levels continue to rise, staff become frustrated, and overall patient experience is compromised.
The answer seems obvious. Hospitals should work to increase effectiveness and efficiency. But that process is in itself time consuming and labor intensive, bringing its own costs to weigh against potential benefits.
It took physician Andrew Gostine—both an MD and an MBA—and his co-founders at Whiteboard Coordinator to finally help solve the problem and provide the means to reverse the decline. To gain visibility into where savings can be made and efficiency increased, he built an innovative end-to-end AI-driven service for data collection and analysis. The service provides actionable data that can be used by both administrators and physicians to improve hospital operations, clinician and patient experiences, and, ultimately, the organization’s financial bottom line.
Whiteboard Coordinator collects anonymized data from cameras and wireless devices installed strategically around the facility. It monitors where people are, what they are doing, and how they are getting it done—all transparently, without disruption to existing work. That data is then analyzed by an AI system trained in operations and workflows in key locations such as labs, arrival and waiting areas, and operating and consulting rooms. The system applies computer vision, deep learning, and predictive analytics, which consumes, aggregates, and transforms a wealth of data. It then returns valuable targeted information to the devices currently operated by the people who can best use it to make a difference.
This is why Gostine has come to characterize his company as primarily a data provider. He can collect data, analyze it, and add value where that process would previously have been cost-prohibitive. A key feature is the transformation process, where data can be turned into knowledge about key functions within the organization. Gostine points out that, “We have another layer of machine learning to produce differential reports, refine the data, and make it actionable by recipients.”
Administrators may get information on staffing opportunities, and physicians can get notified when patients are ready or lab results are available. Patients are advised of wait times. Equipment can be placed where it’s required, when it’s required. The burden of time-consuming documentation can be reduced, and all involved—staff, patients, and administrators—can begin to see overall improvements in operational and financial efficiency.
All this is made possible by the convergence in recent years of cost-effective monitoring equipment, Microsoft Azure cloud-based support for the considerable resources required for AI-based solutions, and the availability of highly skilled data scientists to build the proprietary machine learning platform. Oh—and the first-hand experience of clinicians working at the leading edge of an industry whose efficiency has been declining some .6% year over year.
But does it work? Silver Cross Hospital is an example. The hospital invested in Whiteboard Coordinator and has reduced cost structure while increasing surgical case volume by some 27%. They are looking forward to further opportunities offered by the system to increase profitability while working more efficiently and effectively for their patients.
Two years in, Whiteboard Coordinator is already proving its value. When asked if he has any general wisdom to offer to other tech startups, it’s hard to say whether it’s Andrew Gostine’s clinical background or his business qualifications that lead him to offer the following advice: “There is always a path forward if you’re persistent.”