Why would you want to think about a well-run operating room right now?
Our guess is that, since surgery is a major financial resource for your business, you’re hoping to
- maximize revenue from your operating room (49% of community hospital revenue came from ambulatory surgeries before the pandemic),
- reduce escalating costs due to inflation, and
- resolve OR staffing issues brought about by AB5.
As the NYT reported in 2020, cancelling surgeries during the Covid19 pandemic disrupted your income significantly.
That’s the proof that providing surgery turns a profit! And why it has to be a major focus in your hospital today.
However, to provide surgery and anesthesia services more efficiently and cost-effectively, you need a well-run OR as the context.
So – in this article, we’ll look at the elements of a well-run operating room, and then see if there’s a way to maintain this excellence during
- difficult economic times in general and
- an era of AB5 regulations in California affecting anesthesia services.
Efficient Operating Room Processes
Improving patient outcomes is your main concern. But you’ll also want to minimize costs as part of running the OR well. Possible areas for achieving this include:
1 Checking all equipment routinely
Broken or missing equipment delays turnover time in surgery and timing of subsequent patients.
2 Monitoring your surgical consumables
Include everything in the monitoring – from gloves to gowns, needles to catheters, antiseptics to bandages, stents to scalpels.
That’s because if you monitor your inventory meticulously, there are savings to be made. But to achieve this level of monitoring efficiently, technology is your ally! Deploying an inventory management system means you can make data-driven decisions on what and when to buy. This leads to a more efficient and well-run operating room on the day.
3 Managing your ORs when you have more than one
With more than one OR, it’s too easy to think that setting up for the next surgery in the free room speeds up patient through-put. It might! And in Covid times, it was useful to produce the required breaks between surgeries.
But it also duplicates costs.
A much more effective way of running your ORs well is to maximize use of one room first. Your scheduler can organize this, either with surgery scheduling software or manually, to gain you the best financial advantage and streamline your efficiency.
These OR processes are worth a thought. But staffing is also a chief factor in whether you have a well-run operating room…
Staffing Responsibilities Shared Between Administrators, MDAs, CRNAs, and Managers
A mix of staff with different responsibilities leads to a well-run process in your operating room. Obviously, you need to avoid silo-ed thinking, but each task can be done better by someone focusing on it.
Essential staff responsibilities that can lead to improved OR running processes might include:
- Administrators to negotiate contracts, process insurance, streamline bookings, and everything in between. This saves time on surgery day.
- Nurse managers to oversee post-op care and liaise with anesthesiologists and surgeons if an event occurs.
- There are now problems with how CRNAs are classified in California in terms of their working hours and benefits since AB5 came into force. We talked about this here. However, accessing enough CRNAs will be crucial to a well-run operating room, and also patient safety, especially in rural areas where they often replace MDAs.
Overall, good staffing and first-rate care pre and post op lead to a well-run OR. We’ll offer suggestions below on how to overcome shortages.
Have you watched the kind of OR drama seething in undercurrents between surgeon, nurses, and anesthesiologist? It’s cringeworthy! What a well-run operating room needs is
- an organized environment
- a respectful and cooperative atmosphere,
- clear communication between all team members in the room, and
- regular meetings to ensure good relationships and practices.
The reason behind the suggestion is this: Stress leads to an increase in cortisol ready for “flight-fight” – which cuts off the thinking brain!
Clearly, both surgeon and anesthesiologist need to be stress free to concentrate on second-by-second monitoring of life-signs and operational processes.
So, improving the teamwork means your operating room runs better. In addition, your surgery bookings will grow by word of mouth! As will your finances.
Seriously, though, enabling good teamwork is part of continuously shooting for OR quality.
So, let’s see how data analysis, too, can contribute to that quality.
Continuous Quality Improvement
To achieve improvements in well-run operating room services, you need to collect data.
Data are a key asset. You can install appropriate technology to keep data about:
- How time was used during the day: start time, time dealing with a surgery, downtime when no OR was in use (slow turnover leads to high costs), etc.
- Your cancellation rates – both those you cancelled and no-shows.
- Patient outcomes – this is your quality benchmark, however well you run your OR.
As we mentioned, installing a digital schedule board where possible will help keep things on track, as will an automated booking process. But these do not necessarily collect data.
You need specific data for use in
- feedback loops – including input from your team meetings
- identifying areas for improvement
- implementing best practices
With this in hand, you have the means of improving everything that happens in your operating room: the processes, the efficiencies you make, and how well run it seems on the day.
Improve Operating Rooms Efficiency with Meridian Medical Services
Times are difficult for hospitals in California right now. If you struggle to install or achieve any of these factors for a well-run operating room, Meridian Medical Solutions can help you.
We understand operating rooms and anesthesia from our years of experience focusing on
- clinical excellence,
- enhanced OR performance, and
- full surgeon and patient satisfaction in all practice settings – rural, urban and suburban, ICU, trauma, and deep-clinical.
You can contract for full-service anesthesia management and clinical service administration that keeps things on track and improves your ROI. Or just part of those services.
What’s more, we tailor our service to fit each situation – no limits! – working with your surgeons and hospital leaders to boost your revenue, cut your costs, and improve your outcomes.
Want to benefit from a well-run operating room despite your current economic and staff challenges?
Would you like us to partner with your facility and work with you as a team?
Would you like your administrator headache finally removed?
We promise you maximum satisfaction with service, safety, and leadership! Contact us today to discuss your specific needs.