Operating rooms are both the most profitable and the most costly part of a hospital. A hospital’s profit gained from some procedures can be wiped out by the costs involved in other procedures. Scheduling also plays a role in how efficiently operating rooms are run. Administrators and Nursing Leaders can take some measures to rein in cost over-runs and increase efficiency without sacrificing the quality of patient care.
Hospital leaders can gain the support of surgeons and physicians in reducing costs in the OR by working with them carefully and asking their opinion at every juncture.
OR leaders need to analyze the costs incurred by each procedure and each surgeon.
Use the national standard in pricing as a benchmark to compare your hospital’s costs. Often, such items as implants, medical devices and supplies are what is found to raise costs above the national standard. Then share this information with the surgeons so ways can be worked out to alter their resources or practice to lower the costs incurred.
Letting other hospital staff know that costs need to be kept to a minimum will help. OR staff often open supplies that are not used which then have to be discarded. Labeling materials with their prices may work to make staff aware of costs and not open materials needlessly.
Change how time for the OR is blocked. Most hospitals use an hourly model for scheduling or blocking OR time and when procedures run over, it forces the following procedures to run late. Rather than using an hourly model for scheduling, use a day model that is comprised of blocks of 8 to 12 hours.
When surgeons know they have a larger block of time in the OR, they are better able to schedule procedures in a way that helps stay closer to the schedule. It has been found that scheduling the simpler, more predictable procedure first and the longer, more unpredictable procedures toward the end of the block is beneficial for scheduling. OR block time can be adjusted as necessary to close gaps when the OR is not in use.
OR leaders can help prevent time overruns and delays by reviewing each day’s OR schedule the day before to identify potential problems with such things as equipment being needed in more than one OR at the same time and staff needing to locate instruments that were not put on the surgeon’s case cart before the procedure started. For this to work in keeping procedures on schedule and running smoothly, each surgeon’s preference information needs to be kept up to date.
Tardiness of anyone involved in a procedure, whether it is the patient, the surgeon or any member of the OR team, is often a cause for delays and time overruns. Patients need to come early, though not too early, so there is sufficient time to take care of any necessary paperwork. All members of the medical team need to arrive with sufficient time to prepare for the procedure. Patient records and any other needed documents should be available prior to the procedure’s start time. Keeping tardiness to a minimum is vital for OR efficiency.
Though it may seem as though an OR doesn’t offer many ways to reduce costs, there are several ways to accomplish it. Those mentioned above are just some of them but will go a long way to bringing costs down.
Mitch Robbins is an expert regarding Interim and Direct Hire Nursing Leadership Recruitment for hospitals and clinics, helping organizations build best in class clinical leadership teams in the USA.
Learn to how to STOP losing your best nurses, IMPROVE your patient outcomes and DECREASE your staffing costs with special guest LeAnn Thieman.Download the free webinar transcript with LeAnn, Hall of Fame Speaker, Nurse, and Co-Author of the book Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. Download your free copy here.