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Tuesday January 26, 2021  |  Erin Glanz, MSN, RN CNOR, NE-BC Director, Perioperative Product Management at MEDHOST

Improving Operating Room Utilization

Improving Operating Room Utilization EHR

In United States, costs of surgical services account for about one third of all healthcare spending1 with the Operating Room (OR) contributing significantly to these high healthcare costs with its average cost estimated to be $36 per minute.2

Improving OR utilization to lower this average cost is a complex issue that is impacted at multiple points during the perioperative process. Managing OR utilization is key in preventing under-utilization which results in idle time between cases, decreased case count, and lost revenue; and preventing over-utilization that can result in case cancellations, staff fatigue, burn out, and increased staff turnover. 3

Accurate durations for surgical cases are needed to maximize Operating Room utilization and manage costs. It is important to ensure the correct scheduling information is captured at the time of scheduling. One major impact to utilization is reserving the Operating Room for the incorrect length of time. 4 Hospitals struggle with scheduling and prolonged wait times causing provider and patient dissatisfaction, operational inefficiencies, and increased cost. The system complexities can be overwhelming to unbundle, and the multiple improvement efforts may be uncoordinated often result in bottlenecks in other areas.5 Utilizing the physician case average when scheduling will improve accuracy of the time reserved.6 Implementing a digital patient tracking board has also been found to improve patient throughput and identify cases that are running longer then scheduled allowing following cases to be more to other rooms if available.6 Some of the other process improvements that an OR can make are, designing a functional block schedule to address scheduling issues, optimizing the pre-anesthesia time to reduce time in the OR, holding daily multi-disciplinary team meetings to improve efficiencies.7

MEDHOST Perioperative Experience Scheduling provides the ability to schedule cases based on physician procedures averages and identifying equipment conflicts at the time of booking to reduce day of surgery delays. Patient and family tracker boards are available as part of Perioperative Experience. The tracking boards are updated electronically based on clinical documentation to accurately display the flow of the day and identify cases that have exceeding the scheduled time.

Want to learn more how MEDHOST solutions can help improve Operating Room utilization, contact us at or call 1.800.383.6278.

1 Muñoz, Eric MD, MBA, FACS*; Muñoz, William III BA†; Wise, Leslie MD, FACS‡ National and Surgical Health Care Expenditures, 2005–2025, Annals of Surgery: February 2010 - Volume 251 - Issue 2 - p 195-200
2 Childers CP, Maggard-Gibbons M. Understanding Costs of Care in the Operating Room. JAMA Surg. 2018 Apr 18;153(4):e176233. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2017.6233. Epub 2018 Apr 18. PMID: 29490366; PMCID: PMC5875376.
3 West CP, Tan AD, Habermann TM, Sloan JA, Shanafelt TD. Association of Resident Fatigue and Distress With Perceived Medical Errors. JAMA. 2009;302(12):1294–1300.
4 Jiao, Y., Sharma, A., Ben Abdallah, A., Maddox, T. M., & Kannampallil, T. (2020). Probabilistic forecasting of surgical case duration using machine learning: model development and validation. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA, 27(12), 1885–1893.
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6 Park, HS., Kim, SH., Bong, MR. et al. Optimization of the Operating Room Scheduling Process for Improving Efficiency in a Tertiary Hospital. J Med Syst 44, 171 (2020).

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