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How data transparency can drive sustainable change in the operating room

February 8, 2019 Podcast 6 minute listen
Chris Moshier Sharon Ulep
Are you struggling to drive sustainable change in your OR? How transparent is your data? Our podcast discusses how data transparency can be used to drive change and improve physician relationships.

In this episode of Employing data analytics to improve healthcare operations, Sharon Ulep and Chris Moshier of Plante Moran, discuss how data analytics can shake things up in the OR and provide your front-line staff with the tools they need to drive sustainable change in the operating room. 

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Continue reading below for the complete podcast transcription.

Narrator: Are you struggling to drive sustainable change in your operating room (OR)? How transparent is your data? Welcome to Employing Data Analytics to Improve Healthcare Operations, a podcast series that helps you turn data into action. Today, we’ll explore how data transparency can be used to drive change and improve physician relationships.

Chris Moshier: Hi, I’m Chris Moshier, leader of Plante Moran’s Analytic Center of Excellence. I’ve invited Sharon Ulep, a principal in our healthcare operations and performance improvement practice to talk to us today, about employing data analytics to improve healthcare operations. Sharon, how have you seen your hospital clients use their data and data transparency to improve surgeon relationships and influence change?

Operating room data transparency

Sharon Ulep: Having strong data that is transparent, that both surgeons and the operational team are looking at and viewing regularly, forges a relationship. So, often I will hear at the front line, staff complaining about, “The doctor only wants to do it at this time.” Well, if that time’s not available, it doesn’t make sense to just try to open another room for that surgeon case. It does make sense to be able to share easily and smoothly to the surgeon, “This is why we can’t open the room, but here are the options available to you.” Data transparency is something that many organizations struggle with. They brought in a new electronic medical record, they’ve maybe worked very hard to figure out how to chart in the EMR. But, they’ve not done well on getting information out of it.

Utilizing a center of data analytics to really get to a place where your data is transparent, where surgeons understand what your challenges are, and are able to look at it and understand why the hospital is saying, “Can’t do that at 8:00 in the morning, but we do have openings at 2:00,” is an opportunity to forge that relationship with the surgeon, and let them know you really want to work with them as a partner.

Data reveals what needs to be improved in the OR

Chris Moshier: Certainly, you need to have people who can fix and improve the processes, but also analytics can help serve as a bit of a metal detector. It’s not going to solve the issue, and it may not pinpoint precisely what the issue is. But, through data analytics, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. It can quickly point you to certain areas where you are experiencing issues.

Sharon Ulep: I think it’s critical. And, the important part of data, rather than a sort of anecdote, is that you get to, “Where do we need to improve?” And, we start talking about numbers instead of pointing fingers at individuals. So, when you want to think about improvement and relationships, that data transparency, everybody understanding those numbers, gets us to a place where we talk about the process rather than talking about people.

Chris Moshier: We’ve also observed that when you look at the data, you can demonstrate the impact of decisions that individuals are making, and how it’s impacting other processes downstream, which leads to case volume and an OR utilization.

Sharon Ulep: Exactly

Empower front line staff to drive care and operational improvements

Chris Moshier: You know, it almost sounds too easy. It sounds like you can apply some analytics, it’ll pinpoint what the issue is, and then you go tell someone a change, and problem solved. It feels like change might be the biggest challenge. And, it’s because of people. Can you describe how you help people change?

Sharon Ulep: I think that’s a critical thing to discuss. So, analytics points out where the opportunity is. But, what you really need to recognize is that, you have to help your individual frontline employees prioritize what their tasks are, and understand how to do it in a consistent and reliable way, so that every single time they turn a room, they can achieve the same turnaround time. Every single time that they start in the morning, they can achieve a significant improvement in their first case on time starts, but also a very consistent experience for the patient in the morning when they’re coming in and getting prepared for surgery. This type of view of analytics is a pinpoint of where your opportunities are, but helping that circulator who’s worked in your hospital for 15 or 20 years understand how to change his or her work, that’s where the magic is at.

Change Management in the operating room

Chris Moshier: If I recall, we were sitting with an OR executive committee once and, the OR director asked, “Well, how do I encourage people to change?” And, I recall your response Sharon. You mentioned that, when people come to work every day, they come to work wanting to do a good job. They want to serve patients, and they want to do a good job. You just have to give them the tools to enable them to do so. Can you expound on that?

Sharon Ulep: I think that’s a critical point. When folks work in healthcare, they are given an opportunity to learn how to do their job and how to fit into their job. And, they’re trained to a process. If the process is poor, they will continue to perform that poor process that makes the OR inefficient. It’s really important to recognize that we are creatures of habit, we are humans. And, so part of bringing in a new way doing things, a consulting team to work with your frontline staff, is to shake them up a little bit and help them see how to do their work differently. It’s recognizing — it’s not about a person wanting to do something wrong, it’s about a process that’s either broken or just plain inefficient.

And so, working with that frontline team, helping them design a process that’s appropriate for your organization can significantly impact those process metrics, like first case on-time start and room turn, which lead to better OR utilization, better block utilization, which leads to the ultimate metric of volumes.

Chris Moshier: And, it comes down to the fact that change is tough. But, as we know, the cost of doing the same old thing is certainly higher than the cost of making the change. Is your operating room struggling to achieve the utilization that you want to achieve? Are you ready to streamline your operations, save money, increase patient outcomes, and improve staff satisfaction? If you’re nodding yes, click the download additional information, or schedule an introductory appointment with Sharon and myself.

Narrator: Thank you very much for listening today. And, remember to visit to check out all of our healthcare operation improvement resources.

End transcript.

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