How to Catch Surgeons: Increasing OR Utilization by Engaging Partner Surgeons

You’re looking at your charts and your idle operating rooms and thinking of ways to increase utilization. You’re already running campaigns to attract more elective surgeries in your hospital, but your specialists are already full. 

So you turn to surgeons outside of your network. Like many directors, you’re probably asking how to attract them. Getting teams to go out and recruit seems like a good idea, but actually getting them to schedule is another problem.

And if partner surgeons don’t have a good experience booking rooms, they have no reason to book your facilities and you could easily lose them to your competitors.

While working with Navicent Health, a 600-bed, 60+ O.R. hospital in Georgia, we discovered that their out-of-network surgeons still relied on fax and phone calls to find available schedules. Their manual process left plenty of room for costly scheduling errors and lots of back and forth between the surgeon’s own clinic and the hospital—which meant that patients had to wait up to two weeks for a knee joint surgery date.

To help make the scheduling experience better, we helped them put in place a surgery portal where the out-of-network surgeon, once credentialed, could easily book operating rooms. The system allocates a slot based on availability of room, equipment, staff so that the surgeon and their staff can immediately know the schedule and tell the patient about it in as little as two hours.

One consequence of the digital transformation we helped the hospital undergo is their ability to capture data about the surgery bookings—including trends, expected vs actual surgery duration, cancellations, and more. With this data, they generated insights that helped improve their schedule allocation to reduce delays, avoid costly scheduling mistakes, and improve OR utilization. With over 20,000 requests made through the portal, the hospital generated millions of dollars of additional revenue.

Conclusion

While there are plenty of ways to improve OR utilization, improving how partner surgeons book your OR facilities could hold the key to improving your utilization rates while building stronger bonds with partner providers.