Receive a weekly summary and discussion of the top papers of the week by leading researchers in the field.

In JAMA surgery ; h5-index 69.0

Importance : Accurate surgical scheduling affects patients, clinical staff, and use of physical resources. Although numerous retrospective analyses have suggested a potential for improvement, the real-world outcome of implementing a machine learning model to predict surgical case duration appears not to have been studied.

Objectives : To assess accuracy and real-world outcome from implementation of a machine learning model that predicts surgical case duration.

Design, Setting, and Participants : This randomized clinical trial was conducted on 2 surgical campuses of a cancer specialty center. Patients undergoing colorectal and gynecology surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who were scheduled more than 1 day before surgery between April 7, 2018, and June 25, 2018, were included. The randomization process included 29 strata (11 gynecological surgeons at 2 campuses and 7 colorectal surgeons at a single campus) to ensure equal chance of selection for each surgeon and each campus. Patients undergoing more than 1 surgery during the study's timeframe were enrolled only once. Data analyses took place from July 2018 to November 2018.

Interventions : Cases were assigned to machine learning-assisted surgical predictions 1 day before surgery and compared with a control group.

Main Outcomes and Measures : The primary outcome measure was accurate prediction of the duration of each scheduled surgery, measured by (arithmetic) mean (SD) error and mean absolute error. Effects on patients and systems were measured by start time delay of following cases, the time between cases, and the time patients spent in presurgical area.

Results : A total of 683 patients were included (mean [SD] age, 55.8 [13.8] years; 566 women [82.9%]); 72 were excluded. Of the 683 patients included, those assigned to the machine learning algorithm had significantly lower mean (SD) absolute error (control group, 59.3 [72] minutes; intervention group, 49.5 [66] minutes; difference, -9.8 minutes; P = .03) compared with the control group. Mean start-time delay for following cases (patient wait time in a presurgical area), dropped significantly: 62.4 minutes (from 70.2 minutes to 7.8 minutes) and 16.7 minutes (from 36.9 minutes to 20.2 minutes) for patients receiving colorectal and gynecology surgery, respectively. The overall mean (SD) reduction of wait time was 33.1 minutes per patient (from 49.4 minutes to 16.3 minutes per patient). Improved accuracy did not adversely inflate time between cases (surgeon wait time). There was marginal improvement (1.5 minutes, from a mean of 70.6 to 69.1 minutes) in time between the end of cases and start of to-follow cases using the predictive model, compared with the control group. Patients spent a mean of 25.2 fewer minutes in the facility before surgery (173.3 minutes vs 148.1 minutes), indicating a potential benefit vis-à-vis available resources for other patients before and after surgery.

Conclusions and Relevance : Implementing machine learning-generated predictions for surgical case durations may improve case duration accuracy, presurgical resource use, and patient wait time, without increasing surgeon wait time between cases.

Trial Registration : Identifier: NCT03471377.

Strömblad Christopher T, Baxter-King Ryan G, Meisami Amirhossein, Yee Shok-Jean, Levine Marcia R, Ostrovsky Aaron, Stein Daniel, Iasonos Alexia, Weiser Martin R, Garcia-Aguilar Julio, Abu-Rustum Nadeem R, Wilson Roger S