Recapping the OR Business Management Conference 2017

The Hospital IQ team attended the OR Business Management Conference last week in New Orleans.  The conference was well attended and the team had a number of interesting conversations with attendees over the two and half day event.  Here are three notable observations we took away with us.

Hospitals have more in common than they may realize.
Every hospital feels like they have a unique set of challenges they’re working to address.  And while hospitals may have different policies and level of resources with which to work, the reality is that the challenges they face in driving efficiency in the operating room are not all that different. They include things such as OR block time governance, effective staffing, applying lean six sigma principles, etc. The real challenge seems to be finding solutions that actually help solve for these issues.  One attendee shared that they have been working on Preference Cards for more than eight years now. Small wonder that progress can sometimes be frustratingly slow in the hospital industry.

Change management is difficult.
One of the biggest challenges with implementing change in any organization is managing the expectations and modifying the behavior of the people involved.  And hospitals, by nature, tend to be conservative cultures with many key stakeholders vying to have their voices heard.  And as a result, change can be hard to affect and often takes a long time. On top of the human instinct to resist change, there are other factors attendees shared with us that hospitals often take into consideration. These include:

  • Legacy promises – “There are a lot of legacy promises made to nursing staff who have worked at the hospital for years.”
  • Sacred cow – “There are ‘sacred cow’ surgeons whose block time we can’t touch. One surgeon literally has his name above the operating room.”
  • Tribal knowledge – “There is a tribal knowledge culture where we have been doing the same thing for years, we have always done it that way, and we will always do it that way.”

Change management is something that MUST be driven from the C-suite.  There must be full alignment and support across hospital leadership so those who want to resist the new state of the union understand it’s a get-onboard-or-move-on-out proposition.

Eating the elephant one bite at a time.
The requirement for hospitals to implement electronic health record systems, as well as a number of other system initiatives, has left many IT and operations teams overwhelmed.  Many feel like they “can’t possibly take on another thing.”  One attendee talked about the importance of being able “to eat the elephant one bite at a time.”  They stressed that effective forward thinkers must evaluate and prioritize all the issues and take a leadership role in helping others to focus on a roadmap and process for tackling one issue at a time.

Having these sorts of conversations with people on the frontlines is critical to understanding how the industry can collectively come together to improve operations while focusing on the core mission of patient care. Hospital IQ will next be at HIMSS 17 (Feb. 19-23) and we’ll look forward to sharing our takeaways in our blog from one of the industry’s largest and most well-attended annual events.