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Using OR efficiency to improve customer, staff satisfaction

February 15th, 2012

by Staci Jones

In today's fast-paced,cutting-edge healthcare climate, hospitals must provide an operating room environment that meets the demands of the surgeons and customers, while at the same time providing excellent care and outcomes. Our community-based surgical hospital has successfully met this challenge through efficiency strategies and solutions.

Historically, hospital operating rooms are stereotyped as slow, delayed and stringent. In contrast, Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC) evolved as prompt, flexible and accommodating. So the hospital leadership established the motto "Run like an ASC!" To accomplish this task, our staff focused on efficiency processes, then developed goals and strategies for success.

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Efficiency goals to improve customer satisfaction: We value your time.

  • Decrease patient wait times: It is a known fact that patient satisfaction scores decrease when wait times increase. Minimizing wait time lets patients know that we value their time.
  • Keep physician's schedule on-time: Surgeons juggle their operating schedule, clinic schedule, and personal time trying to keep all the balls in the air. We know that if our OR is running on-time we are contributing to the physician's productivity.
  • Effectively use staff time: We require our OR staff members to cross-train in two or more positions. For example, an OR circulator may be staffed in PACU or as a scrub tech. This expectation also fosters a team environment.

Efficiency strategies in the OR: We evaluated our processes and identified opportunities for improvement. Our philosophy was to implement one strategy at a time, not initiating something new until it became a natural part of our daily operations. Our strategies:

  • Shorter case turnover times
  • Ample time for pre-operative interventions
  • Physician commitment to on-time starts
  • Optimal surgery scheduling
  • Staff buy-in and education

Efficiency in the OR provides results: We intend to set ourselves apart from other hospitals by adapting to meet our customers' needs and exceeding their expectations. When we meet this goal, we are given:

  • Improved patient satisfaction: Patients know that we provide compassionate, quality care and that we "have time" to meet their needs.
  • Improved physician satisfaction: Surgeons know that we plan for success and that we value their business.
  • Improved staff satisfaction: Employees know that our hospital focuses on patient care and outcomes, and that this is accomplished through a team approach.

"If you want work well done, select a busy man..." - Elbert Hubbard

Staci Jones is the Chief Nursing Officer at Methodist McKinney Hospital in Texas. She has 16 years of experience in nurse and specializes in emergency department and medical/surgical nursing. Jones is a certified professional in Healthcare Quality, with seven years of experience in nursing leadership.

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