This article will appear in the upcoming May print issue of Surgical Products.

Modern operating management solutions have evolved to the point where clinicians can employ them to gain efficiency, cost savings, better throughput, and better utilization.

Hospitals can enjoy better analytics, improved mobility, and solutions that tackle specific areas of the surgical continuum. The only question is whether a particular facility is ready and able to leverage the benefits of the technology to address operational needs and wants.

“One of the drivers for investment in OR solutions or expanding an existing OR solution is to achieve greater clinical performance and remove cost, enabling the health system to leverage the incremental gains to prepare and invest in value-based strategies,” says Carol Donohue, Director Clinical Solutions Marketing and Joseph Bailey, Associate Director of Product Management, Perioperative and Critical Care, Optum Clinical Solutions.

Donohue and Bailey say they encounter many hospital facilities stuck with underwhelming electronic medical records with poor user interfaces and inadequate functionality that are difficult for clinicians to use on a day-to-day basis. They don’t allow for structured data and don’t feature advanced user tools. These systems, they say, make it virtually impossible for hospitals to succeed in the fee-for-service environment that defines the healthcare industry today. They also cause facilities to miss out on all of the benefits of end-to-end perioperative systems that pertain to any and all of the following:

  • Scheduling
  • Preop process automation
  • Anesthesia documentation
  • Post-anesthesia quality reporting

“These legacy systems may actually be costing hospitals more to run as a result of the impact they have on clinician efficacy and usability that impacts the level of care being provided,” says Donohue and Bailey.

Recognizing the need for improvement is not enough. Facilities must determine the ways in which they are falling short of their potential and actively seek to generate additional capital by reducing cost in high-acuity areas of their operation. This includes – but is not limited to – the OR department, where facilities should streamline workflow and drive process improvements.

“Improving throughput by adding just one extra procedure per OR suite can generate significant revenue and an ORIS solution can help accomplish this with business intelligence tools,” says Donohue and Bailey.

In addition to significant cost savings, effectively maximizing the OR supply chain can also lead to other, less obvious benefits.

“We have seen our clients gain dramatic improvements in patient satisfaction scores as a result of focused process improvements throughout the perioperative continuum of care,” says Donohue and Bailey.

One example of a solution designed to address specific areas of that continuum of care is advanced preoperative software automation that is fully integrated into the OR system. It is designed to turn a hospital’s preop clinic into a more efficient and effective environment by bringing together a wealth of critical patient data. This data includes a patient’s preop history, labs, and consults, as well as history and examinations (H&Ps). All of that data is readily available to clinicians on mobile solutions.

“There are several positive repercussions of continually evaluating how well a facility manages an OR,” says Donohue and Bailey. “If you are able to spot problems as they occur through the use of a real-time business intelligence dashboard, you can key in on metrics such as case delays, first-case starts, incomplete documentation, and resource utilization, which result in improved efficiency, compliance, and revenue.”

All of this, they say, leads to less overtime and better staff coverage.

However, the quest for improved efficiency and additional cost savings is not possible if hospital decision-makers are unwilling or unable to work closely and effectively with surgeons and staff. No project, great or small, is possible without their thoughts, opinions, questions, and concerns.

“Generally speaking, decision-makers are supportive of line managers when they bring ideas that improve patient outcomes because they recognize that they generate cost savings,” says Rick Taylor, President, Checklist Boards Corporation. “It is my experience that those medical centers that are providing the best care and getting the best results in the various rankings are those where the financial decision-makers and senior medical staff are supporting innovative staff members.

“Conversely, the hospitals that do not support the medical staff and are unwilling to invest in technologies that offer improvements in patient outcomes are the ones that continue to struggle with sentinel events,” says Taylor.

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