Somnia Point of View: Looking At OR Value Generation Through An Anesthesia Operations Lens

Q: How can operations impact some of the factors contributing to greater OR efficiency?

A:  Believe it or not, the operations department provides support for the practice of evidence-based medicine.  How? In concert with the Quality Management Team we collect and analyze the data that uncovers the issues and identifies the trends that lead to the development of best practices.  Using the information we collect allows providers to approach medicine in a more systematic fashion, and it’s that linear path which creates efficiency and cost savings.

Q: What about logistics? Can they be a drag on efficiency in the OR?

A:  If not executed properly, they can cause significant inefficiencies. Making sure equipment is always operable and in the right place at the right time is critical to building an efficient OR. Medical supplies must always be stocked and clinicians need to know where they’re located. Then there’s optimal scheduling of the anesthesia technicians, making sure par levels of supplies are available, expired medications are identified and replaced, and routine maintenance checks of the equipment are performed in accordance with regulatory bodies such as the Joint Commission. By themselves, each of these factors can erode efficiency and impact the healthcare institution from both a safety and a regulatory perspective. When all are out of sync, the effect can be devastating on a hospital’s bottom line by negatively impacting on-time starts and patient throughput.

Q:  When a hospital chooses to outsource some, or all, of its anesthesia services, what role do operations play in the process?

A: Well, at Somnia, the operations team is pivotal in the implementation process; we help set client expectations by developing pro forma scenarios that determine realistic case volume and staffing needs, we review the hospital’s payer mix and identify risk to manage cash flow, and we maximize the level of care patients get for the hospital’s spend—all while ensuring 24/7 anesthesia coverage where it’s needed. In fact, we were able to move one of our hospital partners from the position of having the lowest epidural rate in their county to having the highest—a strong selling point for the hospital’s OB service line.

Q:  How do operations around anesthesia delivery compliment hospital operations?

A:  We come to every hospital as a true partner, expecting both parties to reap the benefits of the excellent performance, efficiencies and organization we require of our anesthesia teams. Our Clinical Quality Excellence Program, which ensures ongoing anesthesia service improvement, can be used as a model for other departments and aims also to align with a host hospital’s existing quality management program. And, because our teams have a presence on many hospital committees, we easily integrate into the overall hospital’s operations, supporting its overall strategic goals.

Q: What anesthesia-related success factors contribute to generating value to the OR in particular, the hospital in general?

A:  When one considers that a hospital’s OR generates roughly two-thirds of its revenue, it’s easy to understand why the OR’s supporting functions play such a key role in the measurement of the institution’s value.  Somnia’s job is to optimize efficiencies around the delivery of anesthesia not only at the OR, but throughout the hospital as well. In doing so, we aim to reduce costs, open new revenue streams and greatly improve the quality of care for patients and service we provide to the surgical staff. By helping an OR to run smoothly and at peak capacity with optimal financial performance, we are successful in meeting our goals, which are aligned with theirs.