Six Elements of Patient Throughput

  • Accurate Scheduling: If the OR schedule isn’t accurate, hospitals are not working at maximum efficiency, have frustrated surgeons, dissatisfied patients and are losing revenue. Scheduling policies must be implemented that clearly state the governing rules of scheduling practices.
  • Pre-Anesthesia Screening: Screening today is minimal and procedure-specific rather than all testing for all patients. It should be anesthesia driven, not surgeon driven and telephonic screening can determine which patients require onsite testing. This new approach ensures the right patients are seen prior to the day of surgery and minimizes last-minute delays and cancellations.
  • First Case Start Time: For cases to start on time, all staff must have a clear understanding on what “on time” means. Does it mean when the patient is in the room? Cut time? Anesthesia ready? Defining and clarifying these terms is paramount for a smooth OR Schedule.
  • Having the Right Resources: Equipment, supplies and competent room staff are vitally important to patient throughput. You need a seasoned OR Director leading the charge. Additionally, case cart errors, dirty instruments and relying on flash sterilization can result in delays, cancellations and necessary overtime. Hospitals need to focus on best practices to optimize equipment efficiencies.
  • Bed Management: If inpatient beds or staff are not available to accept recovered patients, patients remain in recovery longer than necessary. Systems and processes around bed management must be in place to avoid a back up in the OR.
  • Parallel Processing: Instead of working sequentially, hospitals must have staff working simultaneously in order to maximize efficiency. For example, the circulator can see the patient while the staff open the room; the patient can be transported to the room while the scrub sets up the back table; and as the case is ending, the turnover team should be ready to begin their process.

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