How to Reduce Operating Room Delays

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When discussing timeliness within a hospital or other healthcare facility, the patient viewpoint is often at the forefront. However, delays, particularly those in the operating room, can also greatly impact the hospital’s efficiency and, ultimately, its revenue stream. With an astounding 65 percent of all OR patients arriving late for their appointment, taking steps to reduce surgical delays is one very effective way to not only reduce revenue loss but to also increase patient satisfaction and quality of care [1].

Sixty-five percent of all OR patients arrive late for their appointment.

What Are the Top Causes of OR Delays?

With the typical surgery center performing an average of 19 surgeries per day, equating to just under 7,000 surgeries each year, there are bound to be operating room delays here and there [2]. However, at this volume, even the smallest delays can end up costing a hospital millions of dollars in annual revenue.

So what are the primary reasons that surgeries start late? Numerous studies have shown that the top three causes of operating room delays are late patients, limited availability of staff, and lack of internal communication.

Patient Tardiness

According to research published in the Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews, an estimated 65 percent of OR patients arrive late to their appointment, primarily due to lack of education and preparation prior to surgery [1]. Research from Duke University School of Nursing shows that hospitals lose $20 for every one minute of OR delays, and the average delay is about 20 minutes [3]. This would mean that for every 20-minute OR delay, a hospital loses $400.

Research from Duke University School of Nursing shows that hospitals lose $20 for every one minute of OR delays, and the average delay is about 20 minutes.

Thus, if the typical surgery center performs 19 surgeries each day and 65 percent of those surgeries are delayed because the patient arrives late, that center could potentially lose $4,800 per day, or over $1.7 million per year [2].

Limited Staff Availability

Another commonly cited reason why OR delays occur is due to limited staff availability, whether on the part of the surgeon or other staff members. While there are a variety of factors that can contribute to physician and staff-related delays, one of the main issues comes down to the number of staff members available on any given day in relation to the number of patients and administrative tasks they need to perform.

Automated communication systems have the potential to save physicians, nurses, and other staff members vital time by helping patients better understand their appointment times and pre- and post-surgical guidelines without lengthy discharge discussions. In fact, many patients have reported that they would prefer to have written or automated guidelines that they can easily reference at home, rather than be inundated with information at discharge.

Lack of Internal Communication

Finally, studies have revealed that nurses and other hospital staff members feel that lack of internal communication accounts for a significant percentage of appointment delays. In one 2011 study, 44 percent of nurses reported that lack of teamwork and communication is one of the leading causes of operating room delays [4].

Therefore, using an innovative communication system such as Tine Health Just in Time Training, which delivers education just before a procedure is started, could help to reduce delays by improving internal communication and education.

How to Decrease OR Delays and Revenue Loss

By addressing some of the top causes of operating room delays, including patient tardiness, limited staff availability, and lack of internal communication, hospital systems can significantly reduce delays and therefore corresponding revenue loss that could add up to millions of dollars each year. One way to address all three of these common problems using streamlined, easy-to-use tools is to implement the Tine Health patient relationship management and Just in Time training systems into daily practices.

Tine’s PRM system is an end-to-end patient engagement platform that allows hospitals to much more effectively and efficiently communicate with patients, from the time they make their appointment to the end of their recovery process. Using this system, hospitals can significantly reduce patient tardiness by sending automated appointment reminders via text message or phone call. In turn, this can help to reduce the time that nurses and other staff members have to spend making phone calls and going over pre-surgery instructions with patients.

Tine’s PRM system is an end-to-end patient engagement platform that allows hospitals to much more effectively and efficiently communicate with patients, from the time they make their appointment to the end of their recovery process.

Finally, the Just in Time training system supports nurses and staff members directly before a procedure. For example, a nurse can scan a medical device prior to the procedure, then watch a short educational video that reinforces training. This can help to reduce confusion and poor communication among nurses and physicians that could otherwise cause a delay.

For more information about Tine Health and its innovative communication systems, take a look at the FAQ page, or schedule a demo online today.

[1] Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews

[2] Becker’s ASC Review

[3] Computers, Informatics, Nursing

[4] Saudi Journal of Anesthesia

 

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