How to optimize a pre-op preparation strategy: 5 takeaways

Decisions that are made early on in the perioperative process by the patient or their surgeon can have far-reaching effects down the line, so it's critical to optimize the pre-op preparation strategy, according to Michael Hicks, MD, CEO of EmCare Anesthesia.

"Understanding all of the components of the surgical continuum and how they fit and interact together — including the people, processes, technology and communication pathways — is vitally important," said Dr. Hicks. "Failing to have robust systems to optimize patient for surgery generally leads to unnecessary costs, decreased satisfaction and even patient safety issues."

Together, Dr. Hicks and Lisa Kerich, vice president of operations of EmCare Anesthesia, outlined a few tips for improving the patient pre-op process in a recent webinar, highlighted below.

1. A great first step to creating a strategy is assessing the institution's current processes. The success of the pre-op plan implementation is contingent upon the quality of the data the institution collects. Providers can't improve scheduling, throughput metrics, cancellation and delay rates or existing workflows without knowing where they currently stand on those metrics.

2. Do not underestimate the importance of the project manager and clinical director. When implementing a pre-op plan, it is necessary to have a strong project manager who is capable of coordinating conversations between those involved in the care continuum, setting expectations and essentially driving the process and providing accountability. Clinical directors and anesthesia directors are also crucial pieces of the puzzle.

3. Consider using pre-admit screening software that includes a patient scheduler. A good pre-admit screening software or PAT EMR can facilitate data collection, serve as the centerpiece for care coordination and incorporate clinical decision support capabilities driven by characteristics such as a proper American Society of Anesthesiologists, or ASA, physical status rank. These tools can help determine what level of interaction is required such as whether patients need to visit a pre-anesthesia clinic or if they can be pre-admitted over a phone call.

4. Optimize the patient prior to surgery in every way possible. Patients should not only be in the best physical shape they can be before surgery, they should also have an idea of what their post-operative plan will look like, including follow-up appointments with their primary care physician and surgeon and their medication regimen.

5. A clear understanding and commitment to change is key. To make the pre-op plan successful and sustainable, everyone from the C-suite to surgeons' office staff and the primary care community needs to be devoted to making changes in their habits that will be long-standing, not just temporary and the goals of the plan need to be clearly defined.

According to Ms. Kerich, when a pre-op plan is done right, it can improve institution performance and revenue, reduce cancellations and delays, increase operating room utilization, cut costs, make reporting quality measures easier and boost satisfaction among surgeons, anesthesiologists, hospitalists, primary care physicians and patients.


To learn more, download the webinar presentation slides here. View the webinar by clicking here.

Note: View archived webinars by clicking here.

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