Hospital ORs Can Improve Efficiency Through Constant, Positive Incentives

One of the key strategies to motivating healthcare providers to implement healthcare reform measures is using incentives. Positive incentives for meaningful use of electronic medical records, health information exchanges and other initiatives are causing many providers to invest in these measures which are designed to benefit the health system. Why not apply the same strategy to hospital operating rooms? Michael A. Zadeh, MD, board-certified general surgeon and owner of Zadeh Surgical, discusses the importance of incentives in motivating OR efficiency.

The operating room involves multiple people, from the cleaning crew to surgeons, who must be coordinated to achieve safe and successful procedures. "If there is no incentive for all the components of the machine to run smoothly, it's never going to be effective," Dr. Zadeh says. "You need some kind of incentive for every aspect of the process, because if nothing is in it for those involved, there's no reason for them to perform above the standards." Incentives can be direct financial benefits or non-monetary benefits such as fewer or easier shifts or less overtime. "It doesn't necessarily have to be financial, but something that will motivate everyone to function as a cohesive team and make all the components of the system more efficient," Dr. Zadeh says.

He says that surgeons' and anesthesiologists' incentives are built into their role: The more operations they perform, the more money they receive. He suggests that for employees such as recovery room nurses, check-in nurses and the cleaning crew, however, an external incentive is needed to provide a reward for helping complete more cases.

Furthermore, incentives must be applied consistently to produce consistent results. "Normally you see an initial response [to the incentive], but then when there is no reward or positive reinforcement, things go back down to normal. Efficiency is not something that should be measured periodically. If you are constantly analyzing your processes for areas of improvement and positively reinforcing your met goals, you can have a constant response."

Related Articles on OR Efficiency:

Study: Preoperative Safety Briefings Produced On-Time Starts, Positive Staff Attitudes
Best Practices to Improve Surgical Prep and Patient Draping Time: Q&A With Dr. John Di Capua of North American Partners in Anesthesia and North Shore-LIJ Health System
Study: Offering Surgeons Part-Time Employment Could Reduce Workforce Shortage

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