Many things come to mind when you think of hospital operating rooms: surgical instruments, nurses and surgeons, to name a few. Not many individuals consider mathematics when discussing surgical operations, but math does have a place amongst scalpels and bandages.
The Surgical Services staff at William Beaumont Army Medical Center is learning to add math into Operating Room equations through a surgical services course which applies mathematical statistics to OR operations to increase efficiency and patient safety, Nov. 13-15.
The four-day course, taught by Dr. Franklin Dexter of the University of Iowa, teaches participants how to apply principles of operations research to solve problems in the operating room and perioperative environment.
"The course will help us become more efficient in our current OR operations," said Shawlawn Beckford, program director, Surgical Services Service Line (3SL), WBAMC. "(Dexter) is teaching us another way to look at things to help us become more efficient."
Participants included anesthesiologists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, program analysts and other key personnel who direct OR operations at WBAMC. Army Medicine recently adopted 3SL services to with an intent to save money, implement technological advancements and streamline access to care within the surgical department. The surgical services course will supplement current 3SL initiatives.
"One of the goals is to try to learn how to reduce the amount of over-utilized time while reducing the amount of underutilized time," said Dexter, an anesthesiologist who has a doctorate in biomathematics. "If (hospitals) reduce underutilized time, your adding value because your caring for more patients with the available capacity, but if your reducing over-utilized time your also then reducing the cost while caring for the patients, (overtime)."
A series of scenarios and analytics gives participants an opportunity to apply the new methods to measure outcomes in a classroom setting before taking the procedures to WBAMC's OR.
"The science does not change; the statistical theories we are learning in this course will improve inefficiencies of use of OR time," said Beckford. "This course teaches how to think on a tactical and operational level in regards to OR operations management.
According to Beckford, staffing is one of the main issues facing WBAMC's OR, with Soldier and civilian turnovers, reducing under and over utilized OR time is one of the 3SL's priorities. Applying new procedures in the OR should also minimize spending for the hospital.
The unique course focuses on descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics, with an intent to drive operations through a series of monitoring, forecasting and applying principles of operations to reach organization objectives.
"Strategic decisions involve things like total capacity and where you will build your hospital. There are some for-profit hospitals whose missions are totally different from military and nonprofit strategic hospitals," said Dexter, emphasizing the need to apply unique solutions to each organization. "Decisions are always different in each organization, but the concepts and the tools that we'll be talking about in strategic decision making are those that apply in each of the different circumstances so it can be helpful in a variety of ways."
The Surgical Service Course is the first in a series of opportunities for WBAMC staff to gain insight on procedures aimed at maximizing OR efficiency, to include opportunities open to civilian personnel throughout Army Medicine.