Be smart about equipment.
Missing or malfunctioning equipment accounts for more than 55% of surgical delays, so eliminating bottlenecks and ensuring teams have the tools they need should be a top priority. Make certain your scheduling system accounts for the specific tools that will be needed for any given procedure, and also allows time for routine maintenance and sanitation processes. Consider pooling resources with other local providers or using leased or on-demand equipment suppliers to get the equipment you need without spending heavily on new capital investments.
Focus on teamwork.
The OR is a complex machine with multiple moving parts, from equipment and personnel to institutional issues such as scheduling and patient management. Remember, any changes you make in one area of OR management will have a ripple effect on other stakeholders — and can ultimately have a huge impact on overall patient satisfaction. Be sure to keep communicating effectively, and reminding everyone that they're all ultimately on the same team.
Seize the moment.
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With hospitals working to clear surgical backlogs and restore lost revenues from postponed procedures, there's never been a more important time to reevaluate the efficiency of your OR teams. Even before COVID-19, the average hospital was working with a margin of just 3.5%, so there's simply no room for inefficiency as hospitals fight their way through this challenging period.
Managing an OR during a pandemic was never going to be easy. But like with any crisis, the chaotic times we're currently living through can bring real opportunities for institutions to make overdue improvements to the way they operate. Everyone understands that changes to the status quo are inevitable during these challenging times — and that creates a window during which healthcare leaders can rationalize changing OR systems with less internal resistance than they might otherwise encounter.
Smart administrators will use the current moment to drive changes through their hospitals or hospital systems that will improve the OR experience for everyone, reducing costs and delivering lasting improvements to patient care. If we manage our ORs effectively during this moment, we can set ourselves on a steadier path forward as we emerge from the coronavirus crisis.
About the author: Alyssa Rapp is the CEO of Surgical Solutions, a health care services company owned by Sterling Partners. She is also a lecturer in management at Stanford Graduate School of Business, adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and the managing partner at AJR Ventures.
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