While many hospitals have been hit hard by the number of COVID-19 patients requiring lifesaving treatment, they have also been dealing with numerous financial ramifications related to other services offered on a daily basis. One of the most impacted areas has been surgical services, since hospitals have often had to postpone elective surgical procedures. To maintain operational efficiency as well as a stream of revenue, many new measures have had to be put in place due to COVID-19. But to do so in a correct and safe manner, hospitals rely heavily on perioperative consulting services to provide guidance during these challenging times.
To keep medical workers as well as other patients in the hospital as safe as possible, prioritized testing for COVID-19 has become a must in most hospitals. As part of their standard operating procedures, most facilities now require any patients who are scheduled to undergo surgical procedures be tested for COVID-19 within 48 hours of their surgery. In addition, it is recommended that the surgical procedure not take place until test results are received. Finally, should an asymptomatic patient test negative for COVID-19, standard PPE will be used by all personnel.
Reduced Costs Per Case
While surgical services must of course proceed as normally as possible so that revenue can continue to be generated for the hospital, it is also important to make every effort to reduce the costs associated with each case as much as possible without sacrificing safety and quality. To do so, facilities are examining how best to use PPE in these situations. Since many hospitals have reported extreme shortages of gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, and other forms of PPE during the COVID-19 crisis, knowing how best to utilize these items has become critical to reducing costs. To do so, most facilities have developed plans rationing PPE to surgical staff, allowing them to utilize their resources in the best possible manner.
Due to the extra precautions that need to be taken with COVID-19 patients or those who may be asymptomatic, surgical scheduling has been emphasized even more in perioperative consulting. For example, outpatient surgeries are now usually scheduled on some days exclusively, while inpatient surgeries are designated on other days. Along with this, one or two operating rooms are now usually designated for use solely with COVID-19 patients, minimizing the risk of unnecessary infection and allowing for easier cleaning of the area. Also, transport procedures for inpatients are analyzed to determine if alternate methods or routes can be taken, minimizing the number of staff needed.
Workflow Redesign Teams
Since no hospital in modern history has had to deal with a pandemic such as COVID-19, much of the focus of perioperative consulting has been on assigning workflow redesign teams to these facilities to help them develop the most efficient COVID-19 emergency plans. Using workflow redesign teams that consist of various levels of staff and management personnel, consultants can help identify best practices standards, help determine how the needs of surgeons and patients can best be met, and help staff develop better definitions of case times and activities sequencing.
While helping assess a hospital’s operating procedures during COVID-19, most facilities are also making excellent use of perioperative consulting in regards to staff education. Considered a critical component of specialized programs such as those needed for COVID-19 patients, this has proven to be very effective in helping OR nurses, technicians, and other staff members learn how to use existing skills in new and innovative ways.
With many hospitals suffering tremendous financial losses due to COVID-19, it has become more important than ever before to rely on the suggestions and advice given through perioperative consulting services. Whether the most important issues are preoperative testing, better utilization of staff members, or making sure elective surgeries can continue to be scheduled and performed in a safe manner, perioperative consulting can help provide much-needed answers.