Today’s high-tech ORs are a marvel of modern technology. Yet the planning and management of these ORs still rely on traditional manual methods that came into favor 20-plus years ago. Given that ORs are both the most expensive and most lucrative location in many hospitals, it’s crucial that OR time be optimally managed to maximize throughput and minimize waits, while still leaving enough room to accommodate emergency cases.
OR blocks are traditionally assigned to surgeons and/or service lines and only examined in a monthly, or even quarterly, committee meeting. Traditional trend reporting is provided to make informed decisions – including the reallocation of blocks. At the same time, perioperative managers are juggling the strategic objectives of the organization and pressure from surgeons who desire more time – relying on the same historical reporting methods to support their business needs.
Ultimately, the block scheduling and the utilization of the block is left to the surgeons themselves. There is very little transparency in the process. The supporting reporting algorithms are tweaked to be as fair as possible to the surgeons operating within them. This turns into a heavy effort that leaves little time to discuss the actual optimization of the block itself.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Organizations can streamline their efforts by following three key principles to grow their perioperative services.
1. Define a Clear Set of Rules to Execute on Your Organization’s Objectives.
Make sure that all parties involved understand the strategic implications of their actions within the process. Many organizations are attempting to grow service lines, offer new services, and improve their position against competitive providers in the region. Clear alignment behind the goals will help every leader understand how they can support the objectives.
To enable execution, it is critical for everyone to understand how block time is allocated and re-allocated. A clear set of rules for surgeons and service lines that justify maintaining a block, or giving up block, is critical to everyone involved. Not all decisions are popular, but it is easier for everyone to accept the decision when they understand why the decisions were made in the first place.
2. Empower Service Line Leadership to Drive Growth.
Identify and support key growth areas with senior leadership that is empowered to not just oversee, but actively manage, the performance and utilization of a service line within your OR. Deliver the right tools to review both historical and future block performance to help them better manage their business line.
3. Provide Surgeons with Visibility into the Block Performance and Future Opportunity.
Too many conversations around block performance include removing block time from surgeons without attempting to empower the surgeons to deliver more care. Surgeons must be informed about their impact to organization’s overall block performance, so they can understand the opportunity available to them. This naturally creates a better environment for surgeons, administrators, and the patients that benefit from increased utilization.
It’s time to take a technology-enabled approach to OR block management. Advanced technology-based analytics offer hospitals new insights into planning OR blocks in the most strategic and optimal way possible. Thanks to the power of technology, healthcare leaders are empowered to shift from being reactive to proactive in managing the OR, while delivering significant return on investment and improving patient care.