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How to unleash your operating room’s potential

Posted by Robert Routzahn on Jan 7, 2021 12:23:48 PM
Robert Routzahn
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If you have worked as an OR manager for long, you have probably experienced days like this:

  • 0630: The day starts with an angry voice mail from an orthopedic surgeon who cannot get on the schedule until next month. Why can’t we figure out a way to fit these cases in sooner?
  • 0635: The ‘urgent’ appendectomy scheduled at 0500 did not get started until 0615 because of surgeon tardiness. Now I have another surgeon complaining and angry that his elective start is delayed. How can we better manage urgent/emergent cases?
  • 0800: You meet with an anesthesiologist who is tired of constantly running from OR to procedure room to outpatient surgery. Why can’t we create a rational schedule for anesthesia?
  • 1030: You walk past the nurse lounge and see five RNs on break because of a lull in the case load. Why can’t we foresee these expensive gaps in the OR schedule?
  • 0215: You get a call from finance about your last productivity report. Why can’t we get our cost per case in line with budget?
  • 0300: You end the day begging nurses to stay a few extra hours to cover late-afternoon cases. Why can’t we foresee these surges in demand?
Most OR managers face issues like these on a regular basis. Not every day is one problem after another, but most perioperative leaders spend a lot of time trying to balance OR resources with provider needs while keeping costs down. 


The good news is that data analytics can help OR leaders address their most common management challenges. Leading surgery departments are now using predictive analytics and other data tools to optimize staff schedules, increase surgeon access, and control cost per case.

How to start leveraging perioperative data
For leaders who want to optimize their OR’s potential, there are several effective entry points to make better use of data analytics:

  • One important first step is to turn OR data into usable information with the help of data warehouse capabilities and data visualization software. For some practical steps, see Brian Watha’s insights in EMRs: Data Rich but Information Poor.
Surgical Directions has helped hospitals nationwide develop powerful data-driven strategies for OR optimization. We are pleased to offer you a free demo of analytics capabilities that could be yours. Simply contact us at info@surgicaldirections.com to schedule your free demo.

Surgical Directions is a national consulting, leadership and analytics partner to hospital systems and medical groups who seek to improve their perioperative and anesthesia services. Our team of experienced practitioners tackle critical operational problems and are committed to achieving the target financial, operational, and clinical outcomes. Surgical Directions has successfully helped more than 400 healthcare clients nationwide increase patient access, optimize governance, reduce cost and, most importantly, improve patient care. Additional information is available at www.surgicaldirections.com.


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Tags: Operating Room Efficiency, Dashboard, Performance Improvement, Hospitals, Financial Performance, OR Data, Surgeons