Improving Perioperative Efficiency, Quality Requires Nursing-Anesthesia Partnership

Somnia Anesthesia recently released a white paper on cultivating collaborative relationships between perioperative and anesthesia leaders in a hospital's operating room.

The paper, "Creating a Perioperative Partnership for Operating Room Managers," outlines the challenges of OR management and best practices to create collaborative relationships among OR managers and anesthesia staff in order to improve quality and reduce costs through increased efficiency.  

Here, Hugh Morgan, vice president of quality management for Somnia, discusses the white paper and his thoughts on the importance of a strong anesthesia and OR management/nursing partnership.

Three-spokes for a successful OR
The OR is one of the most important departments in a hospital, and the department has a significant impact on a hospital's clinical and financial success. Efficient processes and high quality outcomes are essentially for a high functioning department, and achieving this requires a partnership among surgeons, nurses and anesthesiologists.

"I see it as a three-spoke wheel: surgeons, nursing and anesthesia," says Mr. Morgan. "If any of the spokes are out of alignment, the wheel is going nowhere." Instead, these three groups should be aligned and working in unison to drive improvement in both quality and efficiency.

The relationship between nursing leadership and anesthesia providers is especially important since they are the ones "really living in the OR," he says. "Unlike the surgeons, it's their home day in and out."

Developing a collaborative partnership
So what does a successful OR management and anesthesia partnership look like? In general, it involves nurse managers and anesthesiologists meeting regularly, either formally or informally, to monitor key OR measures — operational, qualitative and financial — and identify and track improvements. Examples of these measures include turnaround times, case delays, staffing issues, gaps in the OR schedule and other scheduling and throughput issues as well as quality indicators.

"It sounds simplistic, but I can't even begin to tell you how many hospitals are struggling with this," says Mr. Morgan. "Divergent agendas between anesthesia and nursing will appear if both aren't working toward the same goals and priorities. When this happens, costs increase and outcomes can go awry."

Instead, he explains that divergent agendas must be set aside for the greater good of the department's performance. "A collaborative partnership involves anesthesia and OR leadership jointly working on and measuring themselves on performance and really developing a collaborative mentality where individual mentalities and finger pointing are put aside for mutual goals and priorities."

Anesthesia's role
As part of this collaborative relationship, anesthesia leaders — the physicians who truly call the OR their home — should really take responsibility for driving the expectations and improvement.

"It begins with developing a culture of interdisciplinary team work between nursing and anesthesia, and how you achieve that is through collaborative meetings and educational sessions," Mr. Morgan explains. "You really just start bringing them together and reinforcing to both parties their need for each other working together in order to achieve all of the various requirements out there."

Mr. Morgan recommends anesthesiologists participate in meetings and committees related to the management of perioperative services. "It's critical anesthesia is involved in these committees and meetings so they can impact decision making and are seen as colleagues that add value rather than just as a service."

As performance and outcomes continues to impact reimbursement, it will become increasingly important that ORs are managed through a collaborative team of professionals. Mr. Morgan advises hospitals to take a "candid inventory of where they are now" in terms of efficiency and outcomes and work to improve their relationship with their anesthesia providers, if necessary.

"They really need to be asking themselves if they are in a position to achieve the success they desire," he says.

To request a copy of the white paper, "Creating a Perioperative Partnership for Operating Room Managers," click here.

More Articles Featuring Somnia Anesthesia:

Success Under Healthcare Reform Will Require Increased OR Efficiency, Value
Podcast Interview With Somnia Anesthesia's Dr. Marc Koch: Evaluating Anesthesia Services
Evaluating Your Anesthesia Services — How to Assess Your Anesthesia Team

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