Smaller Slices of Data Can Produce Cost Savings in the OR

Garry Whitley

Many healthcare provider organizations are spending large amounts of time and energy to develop, deploy and extract value from massive data warehouses.

But in doing so, are they missing out on more immediate opportunities for improvement? In many cases, valuable data is already right there, ripe for the picking. I’m talking about everyday, operational data at the department level.

In my work with ORs around the country, I often find that customers are collecting relevant data, they just need to tie it together. We don’t need to wait for or wade through millions of pieces of data to solve important, individual problems.

Let’s look at OR costing, for example
Many hospitals don’t have a clear picture of the average cost of a given procedure. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Chances are a facility is already running reports that bring in the quantity and type of supplies, implants, and equipment used. From there, we just need to aggregate a bit and account for more specific demographic insights—the name of the surgeon, the type of procedure.

Once you add in the demographic details of who and what, you have a basis for comparing factors and cases to make more informed decisions.

Case in point: Physician preference cards
In the perioperative context, a little digging can quickly unearth treasure troves of insight, like discrepancies between the materials you think you’re using, and the materials you use.

Each surgeon usually has his or her own predefined list of items for a procedure. Even if a particular item isn’t on the card, an experienced OR nurse may know it’s actually required and make sure it’s lined up for the operation.

It’s relatively simple with today’s analytics capabilities to set up your dashboard to automatically review cases and make sure what’s planned or expected for a procedure is what’s in fact being used.

Then, for any questions raised by the data, you can drill down to pursue a hunch. Maybe you’re spending $1,000 more than you expected, but is the extra expenditure perhaps producing a quicker patient discharge that justifies it?

Now you can find out—without wasting a lot of time and energy. While the administration continues to go for the blockbuster results with big data, you can make more immediate, precise gains with a more surgical strike.


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