How a Successful Hospital OR Can Advance the Entire Organization

October 26, 2011

By Sabrina Rodak
Becker’s Hospital Review
October 25, 2011

A hospital operating room can be a very cost- and resource-consuming department. However, investing in the OR can pay the hospital back in dividends. The following three responses discuss how a strong OR can increase the value of the hospital. 

Q: How does the success of a hospital OR affect the overall value of the hospital?

Pamela Booker, MSN, RN, CNOR, Division Chief Nursing Officer, Continental Division, LifePoint Hospitals, Brentwood, Tenn.: Efficient and productive ORs generate one of the highest profit margins in a hospital’s bottom line, thus demonstrating significant financial value. Communities also benefit from ORs that are technically and procedurally advanced, efficient, competent and productive, and ORs that operate as such are desirable to patients.

An OR willing to compete with the technological advances and out-migrating outpatient procedures to ambulatory centers will positively influence the future value of the department to the hospital. Patients and physicians attracted to less invasive, single- incision laparoscopy procedures and more advanced robotic surgery will seek surgical departments offering these case types plus the convenience of getting in and out of the hospital efficiently and quickly.

Attracting patients and physicians to the hospital’s OR also allows the utilization of the ancillary departments such as lab, radiology and ED, to name a few. Future prospects for the hospital OR business continue to look hopeful. The profit margins for most procedure service lines remain stable and the aging population will contribute to a progression of new pioneering interventions and continued service demands. 

Clark Lagemann, Vice President, Health Options Worldwide: The success rate of a hospital lies in every department, especially the operating room, as it contributes to a large chunk of rising costs if not managed properly. Hospitals should pursue ways to improve efficiency and productivity when it comes to services offered. OR efficiency can have [a] significant [effect] on hospital staff and finances. Such [effects] can be demonstrated by improving OR utilization, time, staffing management, etc. Proper handling of ORs increases reliability and efficiency, thus making an impact, and can be a contributing factor to an overall value of hospital.

Joe Smith, Vice President of Perioperative Strategy, Optum: The OR typically represents 50 percent or more of all hospital costs and revenues. Because of this, any increase in efficiency, and conversely any lack of efficiency, in this key area of the hospital is magnified. In addition, more and more surgical procedures are being done on an outpatient basis and therefore can be performed in a wider range of facilities. Given that many hospitals already operate in a very competitive environment, it is critical for the perioperative department to implement processes and technologies, such as advanced decision support tools and analytics, to provide the necessary intelligence to enable growth in surgical volumes in what should be a profitable area of the hospital. A well-run, high quality OR can reduce the risk of patient harm, avoidable complications and the related financial implications [for] hospitals.