Partner Stories

Vanderbilt Urology Case Study

Vanderbilt Urology recognized that prolonged in-clinic patient wait times represent a burden on patients and their families and contribute to patient dissatisfaction. However, reducing patient wait times had always been a challenging task.
Vanderbilt Urology saw a wide mix of patients that required different resources. Different patients and visit types needed to see specific providers or provider types for various amounts of time. Moreover, patient cancellations, no-shows, and varying patient arrival times sometimes caused clinicians to go idle. As a result, simply spreading patient visits out over the course of the day often leads to clinician dissatisfaction due to frequent unwanted idle time and workdays that run late. 
Vanderbilt Urology knew they were not alone in having this problem, and that nearly every outpatient clinic had similar operational challenges. Like most clinics, Vanderbilt Urology knew they lacked the three key capabilities needed to solve the problem of prolonged patient wait times:
  • Accurate time-series data that details the staff members, rooms, and equipment required for each visit type.
  • Process mining, AI, and simulation to diagnose the problem and simulate the impact of other patient scheduling templates options.
  • Software to visualize the simulation results, incorporate clinician preferences, and manage patient scheduling templates across the clinic or institution.
Vanderbilt Urology partnered with Apprentice Health to acquire the capabilities needed to produce patient scheduling templates that reduced patient wait times without prolonging the clinician workday.
Vanderbilt Urology’s faith in Apprentice Health and the power of data-driven patient scheduling templates paid off. Within weeks after implementation, the average in-clinic patient wait time had decreased by 40%.


The Apprentice Health solution consists of three key capabilities:

Step I: Installation

Apprentice Health installed a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) based Real-Time Location System (RTLS) in the Vanderbilt Urology clinic. Cloud connected gateways were placed on the walls of rooms relevant to clinical care and patient waiting, and BLE badges were worn by Vanderbilt Urology clinicians and patients.
Apprentice Health installed and configured the RTLS using its own proprietary algorithms to ensure room-level accuracy. RTLS installation was quick and performed after patient hours, without any disruption to patient care.

Step II: Location Data and Transformation

Like many companies that use RTLS, Apprentice Health software transformed location data generated by its Bluetooth Low Energy sensors into operational parameters such as patient wait times, cycle times, interaction duration times, and room occupancy and utilization. 

Patient journey view: single patient

Patient journey view: multiple patients

Visibility into accurately measured operational parameters.

Step III: Build an 'Operations Digital Twin'

Vanderbilt Urology, however, was not interested in simply having access to diagnostic data on their current state of clinic operations, they wanted the insights on how to improve.
Apprentice Health employed its simulation and deep learning system to build an 'operations digital twin’ of Vanderbilt Urology clinic flow. This digital twin was so accurate that it predicted wait times for future patient visits within minutes of the actual wait time.
Building this ‘digital twin’ allows Apprentice Health to simulate how changing key variables such as patient scheduling templates, staffing levels, and room sharing impacts different clinic flow metrics.

Simulation results showing the impact of adding an additional surgeon to a day in the future.

Step IV: Incorporate Scheduling Preferences

Apprentice Health was built to give clinicians and clinic managers control over their patient scheduling template options, rather than having them accept the results of a 'black box' predictive system.
Apprentice Health’s Scheduling Core Preference Gatherer tool offered a web-based means for Vanderbilt Urology clinicians to submit his/her patient scheduling constraints and workday preferences, including:
  • The number of appointment slots and mix of patients/visit types for each workday.
  • The appointment times and slots that are not to be changed (such as procedure times).
  • The timing and duration of breaks.
  • The preferred start and end of each workday.

Scheduling Core's Preference Gatherer Tool, a web-based means for individual clinicians to submit their individual patient scheduling template constraints and workday preferences.

Step V: Selecting New Patient Scheduling Templates

Scheduling Core made visible the simulation results of every recommended patient scheduling template, so that Vanderbilt Urology clinicians and clinic managers could review the predicted impact on wait times, cycle times, and length of day; and select the patient scheduling templates that best fit their objectives. 
While for many clinics, making new scheduling templates can be a very political process, the Apprentice Health system united the Vanderbilt Urology clinic behind data-driven decision making. Every clinician participating in the pilot implemented their new patient scheduling template.

Scheduling Core's Results interface, displaying the simulation results for every recommended patient scheduling template, allowing clinicians to select the template that best meets their objectives.

Scheduling Core's Template Management interface, allowing clinic managers and operational leaders to easily track the status of every clinician's patient scheduling template.

Step VI: The Results

Vanderbilt Urology’s faith in Apprentice Health and the power of data-driven patient scheduling templates paid off. Within weeks after implementation, the average in-clinic patient wait time had decreased by 40%.