At this point in my career, I’ve observed from all angles the challenges of maximizing operating room utilization: from that of a Senior RN in Critical Care to a Manager in Perianesthesia to a Clinical Director to a VP of Surgical Services to Consultant to my current role as VP of Client Operations for Hospital IQ. And the one thing I’ve learned from being a stakeholder at these levels is there’s a broad acknowledgement that operating room utilization needs to be improved across the board, but hospitals aren’t quite sure about the best way to do so.
When I moved into a leadership position earlier in my career, I quickly realized our organization was suffering from data famine. We either didn’t have any good utilization data or we couldn’t get our hands on it. This problem was hardly unique to our hospital. I heard it from my peers at other facilities as well.
At the time, most data was generated by hand. Everything being documented to inform leadership was handwritten on gridded paper and a key instrument was a pencil with a good eraser. Imagine, if you didn’t have that paper physically in your hand you didn’t have the data. From there, our organization evolved to sticky notes, which we considered to be completely groundbreaking at the time. Whiteboards came next and then magnets. Now we were really moving! But we were still doing everything by hand.
Then EMRs came to market and we were able to store all the data we could ever imagine in one centralized, digitized location. Of course, that created a new problem – we didn’t have a great way to analyze this ocean of data and figure out what it was telling us to do. I remember our teams pulling the data out of our EMR and manually entering it into Excel. This process was incredibly cumbersome and practically a full-time job for a professional who originally became a nurse to care for people, not perform data entry. To prepare reports we would wait to close the month and then spend at least two weeks preparing simple reports such as volume, on time first case starts, turnaround time and completely inaccurate block utilization. Imagine by the time we reported the information it was 45 days behind.
Compounding this frustration is that as leaders, we knew exactly where we needed to get to. Professional surgical organizations from the Association of Operating Room Nurses (AORN) to the America Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) to the American College of Surgeons (ACS) have remarkable academic studies on surgical efficiency and quality that can be used to set benchmark goals. But without that good data and accessible reporting, it was hard to tell if we were on track.
Having experienced all of these shortcomings and pressures firsthand is why I’m so excited to be at Hospital IQ. While working as a consultant, I had the opportunity to see a demo and I knew I had to be part of the HIQ team knowing what we can provide for the operating room and an organizations leadership. For perioperative leaders, we provide alerts well in advance they have a looming gap in their OR utilization. We also provide real time analytics of their key performance indicators on an Executive OR dashboard. Imagine the ability to sit at your desk or go to the OR command center desk and understand exactly how your business unit is performing! Rather than reviewing tomorrow’s OR schedule and scrambling to fill any open spots, leaders can begin that process 5-7 days in advance with our solution, greatly increasing their optimization. We also tell those leaders which surgeons are making the most of their scheduled block time and which have been less efficient with their time.
For surgeons themselves, our surgeon access tool proactively gives them and their offices an opportunity to request and claim available blocks for procedures they need to schedule right from their mobile devices, removing the barriers around scheduling they can sometimes experience. We create transparency and a market place to assist them with the natural variability of their business.
I’ve been in the room when OR leaders and surgeons review the first results after we’ve installed our solutions in their facility, and you can see the instant gratification they experience. They know right away what Hospital IQ’s Perioperative solution can do for them. Being part of these transformative conversations on a daily basis makes me even more excited for the advances Hospital IQ will continue delivering to the industry – and these frontline care providers – in the months and years ahead.
For a deeper dive into my thoughts on this, take a listen to my latest podcast episode: