Operating room metrics are a part of evaluation and are important in measuring and comparing the quality of care and efficiency of operating rooms. These metrics are advantageous because they produce robust data that can be used to assess operating rooms and determine areas that require improvement. Operating room metrics that are essential to the efficient management of surgical services include On-Time Starts, Turnaround Times, Percent Block Utilization, Percent O.R. Utilization, Accuracy of Case Scheduling, and Case Time Variability. Many of these operating room metrics can benefit anesthesia services. According to The Journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, “[f]or anesthesiologists, efforts to increase anesthesia group productivity are the same as increasing the efficiency of use of OR time” .
In an effort to improve the quality of anesthesia care and reduce costs, healthcare providers have started to use operating room metrics. As a result of anesthesia’s tight integration within the surgical process, utilization of operating room metrics can have a significant impact on anesthesia services. The most commonly used metric for anesthesia managers is the evaluation of potential stipend requirements. Anesthesia managers use financial analysis to determine whether the revenue potential of each location matches the cost of providing care. Some practices also use other types of productivity metrics to evaluate the practicality of continued coverage. Assessment of these metrics can help in the sustainability of productive contracts and the elimination of less productive contracts.
Operating room metrics are also used to evaluate performance. For example, percentage of cases cancelled or delayed by anesthesia are typical performance standards that are operating room metrics. These metrics can be linked to performance evaluations and stipend payments, which aim to incentivize high quality anesthesia care. With financial support of anesthesiology groups increasing, financial-based performance metrics in service contracts are also becoming increasingly more common.
Many anesthesiologists recognize the benefit of timely and accurate data in anesthesia management. Dr. Michael Simon, an anesthesiologist, states, “If you track complications of all types, such as nausea and vomiting, you can conclude why certain providers bring patients out who tend to be much more nauseous and need to spend much more time in the recovery room. […] This arms you for a discussion with those providers about how they do things a little differently in comparison to their colleagues with lower rates in that area,” highlighting one of the many ways operating room metrics can benefit anesthesia services and outcomes. Tracking each providers’ outcome can provide a better analysis of consistency of service and bring about improvement to certain metrics.
Improving operating room efficiency remains to be one of the top priorities for all hospital operating rooms. As an integral part of the operating room team, anesthesiologists also benefit from the efficient and effective use of operating room metrics. Incorporating operating room metrics not only allows anesthesia practices to effectively manage themselves, it also provides hospitals with productivity and performance indicators and metrics that emphasize the crucial role that anesthesia plays in improving operating room management.