Unlocking Efficiency in the Operating Room: How Data-Driven Analytics are Transforming Care Delivery and Profitability

Updated on February 20, 2024

The operating room (OR) is the economic engine of a hospital, accounting for up to 70% of its revenue and 50% of its costs1. Yet it’s also a major source of inefficiency. Turnover times, workflow issues, and poor coordination lead to costly delays and cancellations. Surgery volumes still have not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, putting further financial strain on hospitals.

In this climate, optimizing OR efficiency is more critical than ever. Health systems need to maximize productivity and procedures per day per OR. Doing so requires identifying and addressing bottlenecks in surgical workflow and staff coordination. For decades, operating rooms have lagged other industries in embracing advanced surgical intelligence, including data analytics. But the tide is turning. Surgery stands at the cusp of an analytics revolution and optimizing OR efficiency has become an imperative priority.

This is where a data-driven surgical intelligence platform comes in. Such a platform converges AI-powered software, devices, and clinical services to integrate, record, and analyze OR events to improve monitoring and measurement of critical safety moments and has the potential to dramatically and positively affect patient outcomes.

As part of continuous quality improvement in healthcare, surgical intelligence delivers greater insights from patient and operational data to identify and address opportunities to improve clinical care, processes and overall outcomes. Powerful technologies, such as operating room analytics, can aggregate data from surgical video feeds, equipment systems, and hospital IT networks to quantify OR processes at an unprecedented level. At Caresyntax we’ve created an aggregated platform of solutions that includes peri-op efficiency, enhanced reimbursement, clinical effectiveness and supply chain, improved surgeon experience and a modernized OR that addresses challenges across the full surgical continuum—not just one challenge within it.

As a practical glimpse into how data and technology can improve OR efficiency, approximately 1 in 10 instrument trays are delivered to the OR from the sterile processing department (SPD) with missing instruments, with another 1 in 20 containing broken instruments.2 What might seem like a quick and easy error to fix can have more significant results, including increased risk to the patient, delays in surgery and substantial costs for the hospital. A potential solution? Leveraging a video-based assessment platform can optimize the work of the SPD. Using the camera to check the instrument trays to ensure instruments were placed in the right spot will proactively ensure a smoother workflow.

Another example of how analytics can be incorporated in the OR includes the Block Marketplace, which automatically alerts surgeons of unused OR time and prompts them to release blocks early—allowing other surgeons to view and claim open slots. Automated documentation requests reduce last-minute cancellations due to missing paperwork. By making unused time available sooner and simplifying scheduling, the system improves surgeon access to OR slots. Overall, the Block Marketplace aims to increase OR utilization, streamline scheduling, reduce cancellations, and improve satisfaction through automation and transparency. 

Armed with these granular insights, leading health systems are driving tremendous improvements:

●  Decreased surgical delays by optimizing coordination between personnel with workflow analytics.

●  Standardized processes and ideal staffing assignments based on objective, detailed workflow data.

●  Enabled remote observation of surgeries by leadership through advanced visualization.

●  Provided surgeons and staff with interactive dashboards and analytics to continuously improve.

The benefits are far reaching: increased productivity, margins, capacity, patient throughput, and care quality. Moreover, leveraging data finally allows ORs to achieve their full potential.

However, organizations slow to embrace surgical analytics may face decreasing competitiveness, workforce attrition, and threats to their long-term viability. In today’s climate, becoming analytics-driven is imperative for optimal OR performance.

What does this mean for hospital executives and physicians? The time for change is now. While surgeons say “time is tissue,” OR time also directly translates to finances, outcomes, and quality.

By partnering with analytics innovators, like Caresyntax, health systems can bring data-driven surgery solutions to the OR. Specialists in this domain possess unmatched surgical intelligence to unlock efficiency gains at scale.

Executives must see advanced analytics not as a cost, but an investment into their highest revenue driving enterprise. The tangible ROI from optimizing surgery is monumental.

Key Takeaways:

●  Surgery is undergoing an analytics revolution, finally moving into the data era.

●  OR analytics substantially improve utilization, turnover, coordination, and predictability.

●  Data-driven surgery uncovers insights to enhance capacity, margins, productivity, care, and staff retention.

●  Failing to adopt OR analytics risks declining OR performance as pressures mount.

●  Specialists possess unmatched surgical intelligence to optimize complex surgical workflows.

●  Executives must embrace data-driven surgery now to transform surgery delivery and economics into the future.

The era of data-driven surgery has arrived. Now is the time to harness OR analytics for greater OR efficiencies.

[1] OR Manager

[2]Alfred M, Catchpole K, Huffer E, Fredendall L, Taaffe KM. Work systems analysis of sterile processing: assembly. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021 Apr;30(4):271-282. doi: 10.1136/bmjqs-2019-010740. Epub 2020 Oct 19. PMID: 33077512; PMCID: PMC7979531.

Dennis Kogan
Dennis Kogan

Dennis Kogan is the co-founder and CEO of Caresyntax, a company dedicated to making surgery safer and smarter using surgical technology. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and earned his MBA at Harvard Business School. He began his career working with Microsoft and J&J. He witnessed how surgeons can benefit from situational awareness tools that interpret data and provide suggestions to de-risk surgery in general and thereby improving patient outcomes. Under Kogan’s leadership, Caresyntax was invited to join the World Economic Forum’s Global Innovators Community, and the company counts tech giants Google and Intel as partners.