Time is one of the most precious commodities when it comes to surgical services, and during these challenging times, it’s more important than ever for hospitals to make the most of what they have.

Health systems seeking to right their metaphorical ships amid the turbulence of the pandemic find themselves struggling to recoup lost revenue and work through significant elective surgery backlogs. This all comes at a time when clinical and operational staff are overwhelmed and burnt out. With surgical services making up to 60% of most hospitals’ revenue, it is more important than ever for health systems to do more with less — delivering the best care with limited staff.

Increasing surgical services throughput safely and efficiently is top of mind for more than 70% of health system leaders, according to a recent survey conducted by in90group Research of 100 hospital leaders. Optimizing surgical staff productivity and increasing operating room performance is the only way to get there.

Staffing Shortages and Backlogs Exert Substantial Pressure on Surgical Care Teams

Unfortunately, staffing challenges are creating more conflicts given the complexities of conducting surgical procedures. The fast-pace and chaotic perioperative environment often derails the best-laid plans to increase utilization and throughput, and the mountain of backlogs begins to look insurmountable.

Hospital leaders are considering initiatives to try to solve the problem but may be overlooking a key area – Surgical Care Coordination. Judging by the number of hospitals still relying on outdated forms of perioperative communications, the function is not perceived as a worthy target for efficiency initiatives. In90group’s research finds that 55% of those surveyed are still relying on phone calls, pagers, and text messages as primary mechanisms to coordinate surgery schedule updates.

But let’s consider the cost of inefficient, manual surgical care team communication. It’s hard to put a dollar figure on the issue, but we do know that manual tools require multiple contacts and follow-up calls, compounding the time needed to inform the care team.

The inherently manual nature of this approach also tends to result in miscommunications, delayed information, and lost messages. When surgery is scheduled to start, necessary equipment, supplies, and people are missing, which results in further delays, cancellations, and inefficiencies.

All of this delays patient care, creates frustration for staff, and becomes a drag on revenue.

Implementing Simple Changes Can Make a Big Difference in Surgical Scheduling 

It is possible to substantially reduce the number of “hurry-up and wait” episodes experienced by surgical care teams. Modernizing surgical team communications methods allows schedule additions and changes to be instantly and automatically transmitted. All members of the surgical care team, including environmental staff, clinicians, surgeons, and third-party members like vendors, can be connected.

And the upgrade need not require a disruptive change in workflows or processes.

Over time, surgical care teams begin to see the kind of positive results that build on each other and snowball in the form of measurable results:

• Fewer surgery delays and cancellations due to lack of readiness
• More on-time first-case starts
• Decreased overtime surprises and expenses
• Faster room-turn times
• Improved staff productivity
• Improved surgical team satisfaction

RelayOne Can Help

With the volume of approaches for addressing OR inefficiencies, is it easy for health system leaders to get bogged down in over-engineering their approach or wrestling with EHR vendor claims. RelayOne’s software helps by solving the communications problem in a matter of weeks instead of months. Implementation is fast (less than 30 days), and the software is easy to use, expediting user adoption.

With updates to the surgical schedule available in real-time on everyone’s smart phone or device, the entire team, including those not on the EHR system, have access to anytime, anywhere surgical schedule changes – without exposing PHI. The complete team can improve their performance, arriving in surgery consistently on time and prepared to serve their patient.

Now more than ever, time is the OR’s most valuable resource. Enabling real-time surgical care coordination is the key to helping health systems improve the performance of their Surgical Services.