Considering that for many hospitals, the operating room (OR) accounts for 60% or more of overall revenue, any unaddressed inefficiencies along the Surgical Services process can literally mean the difference between running in the red or in the black.
Optimizing your Operating Room: Or, Why Large, Traditional Hospitals Don’t Work(Girotto, Koltz, and Drugas 2010)¹ by Dr. John Girotto, Dr. Peter Koltz, and Dr. George Drugas—published in the International Journal of Surgery—provides us a detailed overview of a patient’s OR journey. You’ll want to map out your facility’s specific patient OR journey for a more personalized overview, but the points from this study offer a solid blueprint to guide your efforts.
Acknowledge the process chain reaction
“When does the patient’s surgical services experience begin?” If your knee-jerk answer is, “When the patient arrives at the hospital for surgery” you may want to rethink it. Taking a step back, we realize the patient’s actual journey begins when they and their doctor agree surgical intervention is the most appropriate course of action.
At that moment, a Surgical Services chain reaction begins. There is also a transition in the patient’s emotional mindset. A key consideration for process improvement is not just the internal steps themselves, but how each one could positively or adversely affect the overall patient experience.
The paper imperative
A lot of pre-surgery paperwork is generated at the surgeon’s office, then sent to the hospital. Unfortunately, it’s notorious for being incomplete. The International Journal of Surgery study found that 83% of pre-operative charts were incomplete and 31% of patients had no chart whatsoever on the day of surgery. In another study published in the Journals of American Medical Association titled Missing Consent Forms in the Pre-operative Area, A Single-Center Assessment of the Scope of the Problem and its Downstream Effects (Garonzik-Wang et al. 2013) ², the authors state that 66% of patients were missing consents at the time of surgery, which caused a delay in 14% of operative cases.
If there is no feedback loop to catch such issues before they occur, then incomplete information must be remedied on the day of surgery. It’s an unwelcome roadblock that uniformly results in:
- Delays and incurred costs in the OR
- Increased stress for the patients