GE Healthcare Camden Group Insights Blog

Is My OR Efficient?

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 26, 2018 1:37:13 PM

By Bill Denton, RN, MBA, Senior Principal, GE Healthcare Partners

There are a number of influencing factors that affect and determine operating room efficiency. ORs are becoming increasingly complex with many moving parts: patients and families, technology, supplies, and the surgical team...just to start.

Your operating room is one of the most critical areas related to overall hospital performance and continues to be the “engine of the hospital.” Like a car, your operating room is becoming increasingly complex with many moving parts requiring regular maintenance and tune-ups to avoid a complete overhaul.

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It’s no secret that inefficiencies abound in many of today’s operating rooms. Patients, technology and the surgical team all have a great impact on OR efficiency. With more cases being done in outpatient facilities, inpatient surgical patients today are sicker. They have higher acuity needs that use more resources and take longer.

Not only are patients more complex, but the technology used to support the surgical team and enhance the care provided to the patient is making surgical procedures more complex. From imaging components, robotics and laser technology to video assisted procedures and hybrid ORs, all require surgical subspecialty teams that are able to keep up with these technologies and provide good outcomes.

With the shift in complexity and acuity, a question is increasingly being asked by hospital leadership across the country: “Is my OR efficient?” There are a number of influencing factors that affect and determine overall OR efficiency, including such signs as:

  • Surgeons are unhappy and constantly in your office
  • Cases can’t ever seem start or finish on time
  • Turnover times remain painfully slow
  • Cases cancel frequently on day of surgery
  • Labor and supply costs are constantly over budget
  • You have very busy days and very slow days in the same week
  • Patient and staff satisfaction is poor or not improving

A good place to begin answering the above question is to understand your current state, find your gaps, and empower a team to make necessary changes. Also, having an empowered team in place to address these inefficiencies can be a platform to shift the culture and have your policy and procedure changes stick for the long term. Such coordination among services, teamwork and enhanced communications is essential to improve efficiency, strengthen quality and safety, and reduce the cost of care. Good quality costs less.


Related Case Studies:
OR Transformation, Perioperative Suite Perioperative, OR Transformation

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Mr. Denton is an executive vice president with GE Healthcare Partners with more than 30 years’ experience as a clinician, healthcare executive, and consultant. He is recognized industry-wide for his expertise in using evidence-based decision-making to reduce expenses and improve quality of care, with a laser focus on sustainability. Mr. Denton partners with C-suite executives as they work diligently to create a culture of change throughout their organizations to sustain improvements. He possesses extensive experience in healthcare administration and as a clinician, provides that perspective to guide clients through the complex process of identifying and implementing significant cost-saving initiatives with physicians and other clinicians. He may be reached at bill.denton@ge.com.

Topics: OR Efficiency, OR Governance

OR Efficiency: It Starts With Governance

Posted by Matthew Smith on Feb 26, 2018 11:14:35 AM

By Bill Denton, RN, MBA, Senior Principal, GE Healthcare Partners

There are a number of influencing factors that affect and determine operating room efficiency. ORs are becoming increasingly complex with many moving parts: patients and families, technology, supplies, and the surgical team...just to start.

As OR inefficiencies are discovered, what are some of the key elements and leading practices related to efficiency that will get the ball rolling for improved perioperative performance? It all starts with effective governance and leadership.

Simply put, lasting results cannot be achieved if your hospital does not have the proper governance structure in place with selected leaders that are empowered to make change and hold each other accountable. There is little benefit to looking at on-time starts, pre-operative testing or block scheduling and staffing without having all of the key players at the table working together to help find viable solutions or having buy-in for any policy and procedure changes.

An effective OR governance structure includes what I often refer to as the three-legged stool: key surgeons, anesthesiology, and hospital administration. If one of these groups is missing or ineffective, the stool falls down. A strong governance structure can support the perioperative leadership team and enable the OR to continue – or regain – its contribution to the hospital’s bottom line. For many providers, this bottom line is upward of 70%.

So, where do you begin?

Conduct an assessment of your existing governance structure to determine its effectiveness, where there may be shortcomings and recognizable opportunities to gain efficiencies. This assessment includes a review of:

    • The OR Committee Charter. Is the purpose of the group clearly defined? Is it an informational meeting with numerous reports but no action? Are your meetings dominated by individuals with personal agendas
    • Current governance members. Are they hand-selected to ensure the right mix and fit?
    • Physician engagement levels. In addition to administrative leadership, do your key surgeons have a seat at the table and solid voice in the process?
    • Operational Dashboard. Are you metrics driven? Are leaders held accountable to outcomes?
    • Core processes. What are some of the process barriers impacting the efficient operations of your surgical services?

Once the governance team is assembled and the assessment is complete, look for opportunities for a few quick wins to help boost confidence of the group and demonstrate to the rest of the OR team that they are capable of effective change. As the group matures, tackle the tougher issues impacting quality, safety, efficiency, and service.

In summary, know that an effective OR governance structure can establish a culture of accountability and performance, and critical to its effectiveness is having the right committee members appointed that have a leadership mindset and a change management skill set. They must be empowered to lead and have the ability to work cooperatively toward the best interests of both the hospital and the surgical team.


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Mr. Denton is an executive vice president with GE Healthcare Partners with more than 30 years’ experience as a clinician, healthcare executive, and consultant. He is recognized industry-wide for his expertise in using evidence-based decision-making to reduce expenses and improve quality of care, with a laser focus on sustainability. Mr. Denton partners with C-suite executives as they work diligently to create a culture of change throughout their organizations to sustain improvements. He possesses extensive experience in healthcare administration and as a clinician, provides that perspective to guide clients through the complex process of identifying and implementing significant cost-saving initiatives with physicians and other clinicians. He may be reached at bill.denton@ge.com.

Topics: OR Efficiency, OR Governance

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