Hospitals are under extreme pressure to reduce or cut costs and become more profitable. Operating rooms drive approximately 60% of revenue in the average hospital. The most critical hospital issues entail finding new methods to reduce human errors, improve efficiency and quality of surgical care. New technology is now available to help hospitals reduce operation risks while maximizing their return on operation room efficiencies.
Technology is certainly ingrained in our daily lives. Nowadays, we don’t leave the house without a phone, tablet or laptop, in some cases all three. Most of us use a GPS on our phone to drive from place to place and would probably be disoriented if we had to use a paper map. But many operating rooms—where getting it right is a matter of life and death currently use the equivalent of paper maps and spread sheets when it comes to organizing how facilities work and how staff coordinates activities. Paper trails lead to hospital inefficiencies and higher percentage of human errors!
Imagine a surgeon having a patient open on the operating table for heart surgery only to discover that the hospital does not have the specific surgical suture equipment needed and having to send a nurse across town by car to another facility to get the equipment – all while the patient is under general anesthesia. This is not only time consuming, but more importantly a dangerous situation for the patient. Unfortunately, such horror stories are too common in operating rooms. However, there has been little attention focused on developing more intelligent software solutions to improve how operating rooms function until NOW.
Having a modern operating room is more critical than ever to create consistent quality across a variety of operative circumstances. Increasingly, surgeons are expected be on time, conduct procedures in a minimally-invasive manner at dedicated and highly-specialized ambulatory surgical centers rather than hospitals, and to discharge patients on the same day. Ironically, the turnover of operating room technicians – who are under intense pressure as well as other staff in the room can be as high as 30% annually, a contributing factor in team composition inconsistency. Most physicians want things done a certain way, prefer to work with familiar surgical teams, but often have to work with an ever-changing cast of surgical team members.
Hospitals now have the opportunity to incorporate modern workflow management software tools into operating scheduling, processes while improving operating room efficiencies. New software is available that allows doctors to set their preferences for how the operating room is set up, what equipment they prefer to use, and how they perform a procedure. They no longer need to rely on manual and analog guides pre-operatively, each member of the team can access a digital guide to those preferences in real-time with multimedia at their finger tips.
The digital workflow software manages the procedure from pre-op through to getting the patient back to the ward. Information can include everything from videos about assembling equipment to instructions about which personnel will perform what role and when.
Last year, the average hospital had a profit margin of 4%, leaving little room for costly mistakes and inefficiencies. Driving efficiency during procedures can have a significant impact on a hospital’s bottom line, increasing throughput during daytime hours, thereby reducing overtime, and allowing for increased case volume, more operations within a given day particularly in instances where cases are short (such as in the interventional radiology suite).