Surgical Preference Cards


By: Ashwin Kulkarni

Published: June 10, 2020

As hospitals begin to resume elective surgery following the COVID-19 lockdown, sustainability in the operating room (OR) has become more important than ever. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals in total are losing $50.7 billion per month from March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020. The economic impacts of COVID-19 have been dire. We have seen over 43,000 jobs in healthcare go away, ending a decade of growth for the healthcare industry. In order to adapt to these realities, we must be fully prepared, with PPE and testing, for a second wave this upcoming winter while offering more telemedicine options for patients. However, surgical ORs must also adapt to a more sustainable model, both for their own financial well-being and that of their hospitals as health systems deal with the financial consequences of COVID-19.

While the OR consists of 40% of hospital revenue, it also accounts for 56% of the hospital’s total supply expense. The supplies don’t always go to good use; in fact, perioperative procedures account for over 60% of the hospital’s regulated medical waste (RMW). RMW not only poses financial concerns due to the disposal fees that this waste incurs but is also a serious public health threat, spreading dioxin into the air. A 2012 study found that if hospitals simply incorporated a set of environmental best practices to reduce waste and improve efficiency, they would be able to save over $15 billion in a 10-year period. While these numbers are small compared to those lost by COVID-19, they allow for both a more environmentally friendly and financially stable business model for operating procedures moving forward. 

Hospitals are beginning to see the importance of waste reduction. However, the process of going about making ORs more efficient may be challenging. OR Link is here to help with our digital surgical preference card technology. We believe that OR communication and organization is at the heart of both safe and efficient operating room procedures. Without a detailed, graphical and current surgical preference card “blueprint,” surgeons often find themselves shuffling between the distraction of organizing their OR and actually placing their focus appropriately on the patient.

These two areas of improvement, efficiency and communication, have a common culprit: outdated surgical preference cards. Classical hand-written surgical blueprints or modern EHR-generated list of materials – which document critical instruments, idiosyncratic needs and much more – often are not updated, leading to drastic cost increases and lapses in communication between all parts of the OR staff: nurses, assistants and physicians alike. Simply updating these cards would decrease the average time of costly surgery by minutes while improving the organization so that surgeons can go into the OR knowing that their preferred floorplan, supply table and medicines are present as required. This will help hospitals deal with the financial consequences of COVID-19, improve surgical team communication and reduce the harmful environmental effect of surgical waste on our environment.

Here at OR Link, we believe that improving surgical preference cards is a responsibility. We have created the digital surgical preference card to improve staff communication, reduce hospital costs and above all, improve the safety of the patients we serve.

If you’d like to know more about how the OR Link Preference Card can make your OR more efficient, feel free to contact us here.

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