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Thursday / June 20.
HomeminewsSOx Makes Surgical Inroads

SOx Makes Surgical Inroads

A software program, developed by Adelaide-based cataract surgeon Dr Paul Athanasiov over four years, is proving to significantly reduce administrative time and costs, while increasing accuracy and efficiencies for ophthalmologists, hospitals, and suppliers alike.

Surgical Order – or SOx – automates the intense manual processes of theatre list preparation, ordering, taking delivery of, and billing for equipment and implants within one secure, encrypted platform.

Dr Athanasiov said SOx was conceived out of personal necessity.

“I was working in two different practices, operating in four hospitals, and using four different lens suppliers. For every theatre list, I’d find one or two out of 10 IOLs (intraocular lenses) I had ordered hadn’t arrived on the day of surgery – pretty much every time.”

With no clear line of responsibility in place, he said “it was a real mess”.

“Some hospitals had great systems in place, with one or two nurses leading the way. Even then, as soon as they went on holiday or moved into another role, everything fell apart.”

Dr Athanasiov said SOx enables surgeons (or their practice managers) and hospitals to order implants and equipment directly from suppliers via one centralised system. Suppliers only see anonymised orders that are relevant to them.

Via SOx they can also track orders for specific theatre lists, in real time, so they know when equipment/implants have been delivered to the hospital or rooms. Notes, that are accessible by authorised users, can be made against theatre lists about specific patient or procedure needs, and billing is automated so that costs can be passed on.

for East Sydney Private Hospital, SOx is saving 16 hours a week in administration, and freeing nursing staff to spend more time with patients

Saving 16 Hours a Week

For East Sydney Private Hospital, SOx has automated workflows, saving 16 hours a week in administrative time.

Prior to its implementation, the hospital was responsible for ordering all IOLs. Now surgeons, or their practice managers, order their own IOLs, saving time for the hospital.

The ability to place last minute orders also gives surgeons greater control over their lists and, according to Gwynn Leong, a Director of Nursing at East Sydney Private, enables the hospital team to be better prepared.

“SOx has really simplified and changed our workflows – it is so easy to use and it has slashed our paperwork by 40%,” she said. “We no longer need prosthetic sheets, supplier sticker sheets, or billing sheets, it’s all captured on SOx.

Automation also means I don’t need to come into work on a Saturday morning to do the billing.”

With less administrative burden, she said she and the nursing staff have been freed to spend more time on professionally rewarding clinical and patient-focussed tasks.

Expanding Capacity

Having implemented SOx in 16 private hospitals across the country, as well as over 60 ophthalmology practices and suppliers, Dr Athanasiov said he hoped to roll out the software platform in some of South Australia’s major public hospitals later this year.

Additionally, he said the capability of SOx is being expanded to meet the needs of other surgical specialties.

“We have already developed SOx for cardiology and radiology, and we will have SOx for orthopaedics ready by the end of the year.”

His 15-strong team is also developing a national implant registry that will maintain a permanent record of implants patients have received.

“Most patients have no idea about the specific implant they have receive. The registry will enable them to securely log in to find out the details, in case they have questions about it or safety concerns.”

Having developed SOx software from the ground up to solve a significant challenge faced by surgeons the world over, Dr Athanasiov said he can’t see a day when he won’t be involved in his growing business.

“As with all software, it has taken much more time and cost much more than we anticipated. I’ve thoroughly thought through every step in the workflow, how these steps impact surgeons, practice managers, hospitals, and suppliers, and how we can create value propositions for each of them.

“I’ve worked with the developers to make the platform as easy as possible, and I’ve carefully considered pricing models to break down any perceived barriers.”

Having received positive feedback from users and with many applications for the platform, Dr Athanasiov said his future as a part-time surgeon and part-time software developer is about as exciting as a professional career gets.