Using big data to improve OR efficiency and margins

April 07, 2017
Health IT Operating Room

Key aspects of both models are transparency and accountability. Whether it is the individual surgeon or the practice or department, unused blocks need to be re-allocated to where they are more likely to be utilized in a way that is consistent and fiscally responsible. Before the availability of data and operations planning and management tools, OR committees simply didn’t have access to such important insights.

Decisions were often made on first-hand experience, seniority and/or political influence. Given the very high operational expense of running an OR and the impact on downstream resources, a 1 to 2 percent increase in utilization or surgical volume can add millions to the annual operating margin or revenue. EMR vendors or Excel spreadsheets can provide a basic reporting capability, but they lack the flexibility, policy sensitivity and ”what-if” scenario capabilities of specialized vendors. Hospitals need to instill a framework of accountability that transparently allocates OR time, staff and surgical beds according to the case activity, demand and policy.

DOTmed text ad

Reveal Mobi Pro now available for sale in the US

Reveal Mobi Pro integrates the Reveal 35C detector with SpectralDR technology into a modern mobile X-ray solution. Mobi Pro allows for simultaneous acquisition of conventional & dual-energy images with a single exposure. Contact us for a demo at no cost.


Other key elements are usability and verifiability. Some larger hospitals have invested in data operations, hiring staff to compile reports and even run basic predictive analytics to gain a basic set of insights. These reports are used by OR committees to help make decisions, but don’t take into account the level of complexity that often exists. The accuracy of these reports, and the inability to reproduce them, is often questioned by providers, creating data skepticism and diminished influence in driving critical change. With the average annual operating expense of a single OR costing $2 million to $3 million, this inaction has significant consequences on a hospital’s or health system’s financial performance.

A robust operations planning and management platform can account for complexities that exist in these environments. It allows all stakeholders from executives, to surgeons, to OR staff to quickly validate the raw data and easily follow it through each step of any recommendation in real time, so that conclusions are defensible and actionable. The opportunity for data and health care operations planning and management tools to modernize hospital and health system operations goes far beyond OR block time. By bringing in data on bed placement and length of stay and combining it with simulation and what-if modeling capabilities, hospital leadership can understand the impact of inpatient surgical demand on beds, create centers of excellence and build staffing structures with more precision.

About the author: Rich Krueger is president and CEO of Hospital IQ, provider of a cloud-based operations planning and management platform.

Back to HCB News

You Must Be Logged In To Post A Comment