By Nick Brown, Healthcare Analyst & Simulation Expert

You stepped up when the crisis demanded. You were there for your community and your patients. Now it’s time to look toward the future. CMS has issued their initial guidelines and key providers in surgery have released their recommended roadmap for resuming elective surgeries, but where do you start? How long will it take to get to normal? How deep is the financial deficit? 

Below is a list of steps to help you feel comfortable reopening those OR doors:

Determine how long it will take to close the gap:  This will help you set up a realistic game plan. Remember that some staff have been pushed during this crisis; considering their expectations and availability will be a large factor in closing this gap. Reviewing your historical capacity data to maximize throughput, efficiency, and prime time should be used as a first step but shouldn’t be the only step.

Consider payer mix to identify the most cost-effective case integrate: The objective is not to close the gap the fastest. It’s to close it quickly and efficiently and in a way that avoids any long-term bottlenecks down the road (i.e., burnout, errors in scheduling and charge capture).

Ensure the sickest patients are being seen first: Although this seems straightforward, with the extensive backlog of patients it could be difficult to prioritize patients based on historical acuity or ASA levels. Making sure to account for this in your reactivation plan is critical to achieve efficiency and high quality of care.

Be willing to flex and adjust case volume as needed: Although best practices are being rapidly developed, there aren’t examples that are specific to your hospital. Being able to flex and adjust will prepare you for any and all curveballs that will likely come your way.

Getting your surgery department back up and running is going to be a demanding task, on top of all the demanding tasks you are already doing. Thinking ahead and planning can help make this a little less demanding in hopes of getting back to a new normal as soon as possible.

To learn more about issues that will affect reopening other departments, read our blog “What to Consider When Reopening a Department.”


Think you might need some help? Our interactive tool Surgi IQ lets us utilize your data and collaborate with you to develop a plan that works for your organization, your surgeons, and your timeline. Our process is fast, interactive, and dynamic. For more information and a demo, please contact Sharon Conklin at sharon.conklin@catalysthc.com or call 843-367-6408.