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3 Tech Tips for the Surgical Suite

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, September 13, 2011

The theme common to all three tips—and at all four organizations in the report—is careful planning.

Bob Nimon, managing director at Genesis Planning, a healthcare technology consultancy, and manager of medical technology planning at The Methodist Hospital, says technology can account for as much as a quarter of the building costs, but given construction lag times and other strategic decisions, that cost may be difficult to pin down. At the time the center was being conceptualized in 2005, the health system could not say exactly what surgical and other outpatient services would be in the building, Nimon says.

"In order to accommodate not knowing what physicians or services were going to be using these ORs, and not having an exact handle on what procedures were going to be done in the future, we came up with a layout of the ORs in terms of the utility booms, lights, integration, and all of the different elements that could accommodate multiple surgical interventions on a multidisciplinary basis," Nimon says. "We worked with the hospital, architects, and engineers to make sure that these adaptations were planned and that the staff understood what we were doing so they could get best utilization out of these spaces later on."

Hospitals must consider the impact of new technologies on clinical and nonclinical workflow and operations, Hanrahan says.

"It is less about the specific surgical instrumentation or clinical technologies or the electronic medical record, but more about the necessary training of current staff and change implications, even in terms of shaping the new job description and rethinking the type of person that you want to hire going forward. So we tend to be more focused on ensuring that the appropriate change management program is put in place across all the stakeholders and how you're going to communicate to all of them of the new requirements and expectations. Executing that change management over the specific time frame to help achieve those safety objectives and efficiency objectives—that sounds great theoretically, but there are always some additional pieces that need to be put in place beyond the specific piece of technology.

You can read more about how these organizations are improving their surgical programs in our most recent HealthLeaders Media Breakthroughs Report, The High-Performing Surgical Program

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