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Archive September 2018 XIX, No. 9

Financial Management: The Perioperative Olympics

In one quarter, 52 staff-generated, gold-medal, money-saving ideas have resulted in $121,000 in savings.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


Lehigh Valley Health Network
PRUNING THE PACK Custom packs have gotten smaller at the Lehigh Valley Health Network now that preference cards are procedure cards.
Award Winner

OR Excellence Award Winner

A serious financial crisis is no time for fun and games. Or is it? When the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa., was facing tough financial times early this year, they had an idea so crazy it just might work. Let's hold a systemwide Perioperative Olympics, they said, a friendly competition to see which frontline staff from all 5 campus locations could come up with the best cost-saving ideas. Instead of curling and ice dancing, the Perioperative Olympics would focus on water conservation and preference cards — things that could give a boost to sagging margins.

Staff submitted 78 ideas on Olympic-themed letterhead, 52 of which the hospital implemented immediately. In the first 3 months, the numbers were eyepopping: $127,443 in actual cost savings or avoidance, says Alex Warman, MBA, director of perioperative business services. For such a gold-medal performance, the Lehigh Valley Health Network is the runaway winner of the 2018 OR Excellence Award for Financial Management.

No margin, no mission

Lehigh Valley Health Network
WATER CONSERVATION Lehigh Valley Health Network replaced foot pedals with water sensors at all of its scrub sinks. Expected water bill savings: $728,000 to $950,000.

At the start of the year, Lehigh's financial picture was grim. Put another way: The margins projected for the end of the fiscal year were, let's just say, not favorable. Surgical volume and margins were down. Case costs were up. On top of that, a private urology group had just left Lehigh for another hospital system — and taken a lot of cases with it.

The clinical and financial leaders convened in the conference room for a serious sit-down. They agreed that the best way to enhance revenue was to decr and control expenses by focusing on the things they could control. It just so happens that the meeting took place in February, during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Perhaps to break the tension, somebody in the room suggested they hold a Perioperative Olympics. Why not make a financial crisis, they said, a fun and creative project for everyone?



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