By Ali Hobbs, Healthcare Analyst, and Dee Stephens, Clinical Expert

With the novel coronavirus taking us to places we have never gone before, how can we make the most of our current situation? Without elective surgeries, staff ranging from nurses to material technicians are left with vacancies in their task load. Leadership is looking for ways to utilize their staff. Good staff is hard to find, and keeping them engaged and paid during this time is crucial for retention.

One way to maximize this time is by allowing staff to contribute to a series of tasks that are necessary for efficient operations but often take a backseat during busy times in day-to-day operations. These tasks need to occur on a routine basis but are easily pushed off when staff are stretched too thin. Focusing on these tasks will help empower the staff and set your organization up for success when your perioperative services are back in full swing.  

The following is a list of six tasks with benefits and details for tackling them. Benefits and details for operationalizing those tasks depend on the facility and available resources and are not all-inclusive. Patient and staff safety is of the utmost importance and should be considered when preparing to implement potential initiatives.

1. Terminal Cleans

Benefits

  • Potential for learning opportunities using the 5S method (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain)

Details

  • All areas of the hospital should be included: offices, desks, storage units
  • Develop a schedule that incorporates social distancing practices to provide a realistic staffing model

2. Inventory Counts

Benefits

  • Provides an avenue to recoup some costs
  • Proper documentation will provide leadership with actionable data to make decisions and improve for the future

Details

  • Identify obsolete inventory and adjust the supply chain process as needed
  • Consider structuring the inventory count in a repeatable manner to prepare for the next one
  • If items are no longer used, isolate until an action plan can be determined

3. Preference Card Clean-Up

Benefits

  • Allows for better management of supplies
  • Opportunity to identify obsolete inventory and reduce waste within sterile processing
  • Requires physician engagement and a way to keep physicians and staff engaged virtually
  • Optimized preference card utilization can result in cost reduction and increased revenue capture

Details

  • Dependent on preference card usage data
  • Relies on engagement from all areas in the perioperative department

4. Backlog of Charges

Benefits

  • Opportunity for root cause analysis for charges not captured
  • Option to recover some percentage of charges for increased revenue

Details

  • Once root cause is identified, develop and implement process to ensure charge is always captured

5. Policy Reviews

Benefits

  • Policies will be updated before potential due date
  • Opportunity to combine policies to reduce amount of rework annually

Details

  • Initiated review of all policies
  • Identify outdated or obsolete policies
  • Ensure policies are being followed and adjust operations or policies for accurate and appropriate regulation

6. Scorecard/Technology Evaluations

Benefits

  • Opportunity to reevaluate scorecard generations and reevaluate your KPIs
  • Continuous improvement using actionable data

Details

  • Ensure scorecards are actionable and concise
  • Create process around weekly evaluation of scorecards
  • Ensure currently technology supports best practices for scorecard generations

The current downtime in perioperative services allows us the opportunity to prepare for the future by gaining efficiencies in the supply chain. Many processes can be done to ensure you are ready for the future and will come back better than ever. Not to mention, at a time like this, finances are more important than ever. Being able to identify cost savings and reduce inventory will vastly help the finances of the hospital.