This will be my second time at to the annual OR Management conference. I enjoyed the conference last year, which highlighted subject like operational efficiencies, new modalities of treatment, Lean methodologies, materials standardization, etc. I’m sure this year will offer similar educational opportunities, but that’s not why I’m going.
After working in an operating room and three years of attending Operating Room-related conferences and consulting with clients in the healthcare industry, it has become clear to me that there is a gap between what OR Directors and Managers do on a daily basis and the expectations their administrators set for them. Let’s face it: OR Managers and Directors are typically hired for their clinical experience. The shame is that, despite their credentials, these people end up spending the majority of their time putting out fires, managing surgeon and anesthesiologist egos, and fighting political battles. Unfortunately, very little time is spent “actually managing the OR like a business.”
However, this laundry list of management disasters does not negate executives’ expectations of the new OR director, who often ask directors to:
- Lower variation of implant and material choices across service lines
- Improve first case on-time starts
- Reduce SSI rates
- Increase block and overall room utilization
- Drop turnover time from 44 to 23 minutes
All of these demands have something in common – they require integrated data from multiple systems in the OR to analyze and address. However, when I talk to managers about their worries of integrating this data to efficiently address the executive demands, they are reluctant to change. The most common justification is, “Well, we already have a Corporate IS department,” or even “Well, we have [insert EMR vendor’s name here] tool for that.” This response makes me laugh (and cry) because it differentiates those who “get it” and those who don’t.
Every hospital is unique, every Operating Room with its own set of priorities, systems, processes, and people; there is currently no off-the-shelf or black-box solution to help an OR Manager actually manage an OR. Yes, there is a module for Quality somewhere over here, and maybe an app for Labor & Productivity over there, but there can be no standard comprehensive, scalable, extensible solution that accommodates the variety of clinical, financial, operational, research, market share, physician credentialing, materials management, and other disparate data sets of each hospital.
However, despite the strength of the solution, it is not a costly effort; the ROI is short-term and clear. There should be money in every budget to build these solutions, because they are built to help address immediate, short-term needs (such as better reporting for quality; analysis for standardizing implants in total joints) and long- term needs (such as multi-facility standardization, automated external and internal reporting of patient safety and quality measures, integrating health plan and other data for measuring true cost per case).
I’m going to the conference to see how many of the OR Managers embrace this approach, are eager to capitalize on the huge opportunities there are to save millions of dollars in the OR, and understand that Corporate IS departments don’t help the business users create solutions that can help you do this:
Are you ready to embrace the opportunities your institution has starting with integrating your data? Will you join me at the OR Managers conference? I’d like to hear your unique needs and how we can collaborate and address them together.