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Archive October 2013 XIV, No. 10

How Do You Measure Up?

The 10 most meaningful benchmarks to your surgical business.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


benchmark PERFECT MEASUREMENTS What's the one benchmark you religiously track at your surgical facility, the one number that tells you you're on the right path?

Surgery is awash in statistics, perhaps more so than any other branch of medicine. To know how you're doing in the operating room, just compare your performance against surgery's many magic numbers and hallowed yardsticks: turnover times, infection rates, block time utilization, first case on-time starts. But which numbers matter most? Which are the best barometers for how your ORs are doing? We asked a panel of surgical facility leaders for the benchmarks that matter most. Here are their top 10.

1First case on-time starts
"Just like breakfast is the most important meal of the day, on-time starts are the most important benchmark for how your whole day will go," says Faith True, MBA, BSN, RN-NE-BC, CNOR, CGRN, CIC, CHL, director of perioperative services at SoutheastHEALTH in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

SoutheastHEALTH feels so strongly about its on-time starts that it made it a team outcome metric to determine individual merit raises for the entire perioperative area, including anesthesia, says Ms. True. They began last year in the 40% to 50% range of on-time starts, "so we really had nowhere else to go but up," says Ms. True. And up they've gone. The medical director of anesthesia speaks to every late surgeon every day to determine why he was late. If need be, they'll push delinquent surgeons' start times back in 15-minute increments (0815, 0830, 0845 and sometimes even 0900) if they consistently can't get to their first case on time. "Now," says Ms. True, "we're up to 80% and sometimes 90+% on-time first starts."

Many facility managers feel on-time starts are the most important indicator of operating room efficiency. "If cases don't start on time, then there is potential for a cascade effect on the cases that follow," says Michael S. Seator, MBA, BSN, CNOR, administrative director of surgical services and central sterile processing at Detroit Medical Center's Harper University Hospital in Michigan. Late starts mean patients are spending more time than they'd like at your facility, which can drag down your patient satisfaction scores.

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