Surgeons aren’t spoiled with time. When a patient goes under the knife, every second counts.
Surgeons’ duties, however, often extend out of the operating room (OR) into the administration office. They must perform a balancing act between the competing priorities of providing the best possible care and sticking to an ever-tightening budget.
With warnings of the UK National Health Service (NHS) facing a £30bn funding gap by 2020, every penny counts. Add to that a forecasted 4 percent yearly increase in demand driven by an ageing population, and the UK’s sixty six year old health service looks like it is about to enter stormy seas.
A whole host of considerations come into play when running an OR: surgeon’s working hours, the quality of patient care, providing a healthy work environment for staff, and staying within budget. An under-used OR costs a hospital around £580 an hour, but an over-used one can result in poorer care and longer waiting times for patients.
In the West Midlands, the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) has found success with a new tool that could be the key to harmonizing budget savings with improved patient care: the Centricity Opera system.
The system is being used at thirty two operating theaters spread across two hospital sites. As a result, UHCW has managed to save around £750,000 a year by reducing the amount of unused theater sessions. And by keeping track of all consumables in surgical procedures, the hospital has made a further £1 million a year in material revenue gains.
Centricity Opera is a piece of software that acts as a central hub for all OR procedures. Data from each of UHCW’s ORs is instantly shared, saving both time and money. Daily caseloads can be easily monitored, and administrators can see if procedures occurring simultaneously will need the same equipment. The system effectively enables the team to streamline all OR procedures making UHCW a leaner, more efficient hospital that can meet the increasing demand.
Amardeep Johal, Theaters Performance Manager at UHCW, said, “Before Centricity Opera, someone had to physically walk around or call thirty two theaters to see what was happening. Now we can see everything in real time on one screen.”
By having immediate, real-time access to all in-progress or scheduled procedures, the hospital can be better organized for routine and emergency work. Staff shifts can be adjusted based on the requirements for each procedure, and critical cases can be bumped up the schedule with a simple drag-and-drop.
Since the system’s introduction in 2007, UHCW has seen a 42.2 percent improvement in OR usage. In other words, only 4 percent of OR capacity goes unused each month, compared with 16 percent in 2007.
Meghana Pandit, Chief Medical Officer at UHCW, said, “We hope that striving for high efficiency rather than utilization alone will benefit patients through avoiding the stress of operations being cancelled at short notice, reducing waiting times and reducing length of pre-operative fasting. Staff will also benefit through a reduction in unplanned late finishes, avoiding stress and tiredness.”
The Centricity Opera system was shortlisted for the Excellence in Healthcare Business Analytics award at the 2014 EHI awards, for the difference it has made to the way healthcare data is collected and managed.