Small Actions Hospital Leaders Can Take to Improve Operational Efficiency
Author: Kevin Rash
The rate of change in health care reform for payment of services creates the need to improve operational efficiencies and costs. Most health centers and hospitals rely on the operating room to enhance their bottom lines; however, this may not be true in the future for these facilities. What used to be a revenue generator is quickly becoming a focus for cost control, where a few small actions can change the bottom line.
Managing the Surgical Supply Chain
In surgery, the procedural or preference card can make or break supply cost management. This card is used by the supply chain, scheduling, clinical and billing and coding teams, along with pretty much everyone else except the executive team. The overall supply costs are a direct reflection of the overall status of the facility preference cards. If these cards aren’t managed, the facility could experience increased carrying costs for inventory, multiple inventory management issues, wasting of supplies and an increase in costs per case. All these factors will continue to negatively affect their bottom lines. If your hospital isn’t taking steps to manage these cards, you likely have supply costs that can be readily improved.
Surgical Schedule & Labor Efficiencies
No matter the size of your operating room, the use of a block scheduling methodology should be considered. Block scheduling is a generally effective methodology to allow the surgeon to have appropriate resources and the facility to have efficient surgical suites. The block schedule can assist the operating room management team in staffing for the care of these patients, including the skill mix needed at any given time to assist in delivering the proper level of clinical care. Proper access and use also will assist in understanding what anesthesia needs are necessary in delivering this care.
Clinical Processes with Surgical Precision
Patients experience waiting in most health care encounters. The surgical wait time can create anxiety at an already uneasy time. It’s important to have the clinical processes aligned, understood and communicated to patients and their families before they arrive the day of surgery. Like a surgeon is trained for surgical precision, the patient flow should be seamless during the patient encounter in the operating room. The staff preparing patients for surgery must have their workflows aligned and understood. Many hospitals and surgical centers struggle to execute clinical process and patient flow. Your facility’s success and reputation are affected by the overall success of the scheduling and surgical preoperative team.
Questions to Ask Every Surgical Service Line Leader
Are you a new leader in surgery? The following questions should help new or even the most seasoned surgical leaders succeed.
- When was the last time we reviewed our preference or procedural cards with our surgeons and surgery team together? Was our focus on instruments, supplies, assigned team, naming or something else?
- Do we know what supplies we waste on each case? What does this add up to per day? Do we know why this is occurring?
- Do we have items on our preference card for supplies that are used less than 20 percent of the time?
- Do we know what our cost per case is for all our surgical procedures?
- What operating room access is given to each of our surgical specialties? How is this access used by specialty and surgeon?
Contact Kevin or your trusted BKD advisor for more information on how you can prioritize and help improve your hospital’s operational performance in the upcoming year.