3 Tech Tips for the Surgical Suite

Gienna Shaw, September 13, 2011

Technology is everywhere in the surgical suite—from the smallest medical gadget to the largest, most expensive piece of imaging equipment or robotic system, to the electronic medical record system that ties it all together.

The latest HealthLeaders Media Breakthroughs Report on high-performing surgical programs centers on four organizations that share how they used technology to create more efficient, quality-driven, patient centered, and successful surgical programs. 

1. Don't buy what you don't need

There was a time not so long ago when surgeons heard about a medical device, decided they wanted the shiny new toy, put in an order, and gleefully await for their shipment to arrive. "There were no questions asked, there was no discussion done, and it led to the proliferation of a lot of technology that was quite useless," Michael L. Marin, MD, chair of surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, says in the multimedia report.

Those days, he says, are over.

"The paradigm has shifted. Certainly it has at Mount Sinai, where we have a much more financially responsible approach to the use of technology."

Before a new technology or device is adopted at the organization, a committee conducts a cost-benefit analysis of the device's value to the patient to determine its potential economic impact on the hospital, Marin says. "We now walk into the use of new technology with much greater knowledge and more careful forethought than we ever have in surgery in modern times."


2. Don't pave the cow path

Hospitals spend millions of dollars on new programs, platforms, and tools "with the expectation that the transformative power of technology will also transform surgical services into a high-performance, high-tech/high-touch driver of future profitability and quality rankings," says Lawrence Hanrahan, MD, a principal at PwC Health Industries Advisory.

"It's possible, but not guaranteed," he adds.

In order to get true performance you must also address fundamental people and process issues—workflow, roles, and responsibilities.

"The introduction of new technology in the surgical services area may result in 'paving the cow path.' It may look like a new road, one that is greatly improved and can handle far greater volumes of traffic at higher speeds, but it is still utilizing the same operational process or work flow," he says. "At the same time, your competition is utilizing the 'new superhighway,' which has bypassed your old way of doing things operationally.

Organizations must anticipate and manage the change and its impact.

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