Why Turnover Time May Not Be Best Bet for Improving OR Efficiency

Many hospitals target turnover time as a way to improve the efficiency of their operating rooms. While reducing turnover time is beneficial, unless the turnovers are excessively long, the resultant increase in efficiency may not be as great as that for improvements in other areas, according to Robert Stiefel, MD, principal of management and consulting firm Enhance Healthcare.

"Data has shown that while turnover time is a meaningful data point to track, in most typical operating room scenarios, an improvement [in turnover time] may not yield significant additional time at the end of the day," Dr. Stiefel says. He suggests OR departments may be better served by focusing on other factors, such as day-of-surgery cancellations, on-time starts for the first case of the day, improved pre-admission testing (PAT) and parallel processing.  

"Since the typical room only has two or three turnovers per day, oftentimes the effort required to improve [turnover time] by several minutes per case is not maximally rewarded as far as a return on investment," Dr. Stiefel says.

Other changes that are effective in making ORs more efficient include completing a patient's chart (including labs, consults, etc.) and addressing any abnormalities by the business day prior to the operation, developing processes to communicate important patient information to the appropriate people in a timely manner and coordinating transportation to and from the OR.  

"Most hospitals can get a bigger bang for their buck by improving PAT, changing some scheduling methodologies and reducing case start delays/cancellations than looking at turnover time," Dr. Stiefel says.

Learn more about Enhance Healthcare.

Related Articles on OR Efficiency:

How Natural Sunlight Can Positively Affect the Operating Room

6 Steps to Ensure Operating Room Safety and Efficiency

4 Benefits of a Hybrid Operating Room

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