Increasing Surgical Capacity without Construction

July 2, 2014  |  David White

During a recent engagement, we worked with a surgical department that was utilizing 24 operating rooms that were operating at close to full capacity (80% – 85%) during the peak periods of the day. And both the Pre Procedure and Same Day PACU were experiencing over 90% utilization during the busiest times.

Volumes were projected to grow by more than 140 cases per month within a six month period, and there were no opportunities for physical renovation or expansion in the existing environment. The challenge facing the team was to handle the additional volumes in the existing footprint by relying solely upon operational changes.

Working with staff, we examined potential options to assist with increasing capacity, measured the quantitative outcomes for each option using computer simulation modeling, and explained the benefits of the changes so they could prioritize which ones to implement.

blog_ summary of options

The results of the simulation testing allowed for a comparison of the benefits (increased capacity, decreased patient length of stay) with the costs (facility impact, staffing modifications, impacts on other departments) for each of the potential options. This led to consensus on the options that had the best chance for success while also providing the biggest capacity gains with minimal impacts on overall costs.

Block Time Utilization
This tool helps the OR management team identify opportunities for optimization of the utilization of the ORs and identify services that have an unbalanced need between scheduled blocks and utilized blocks.


Scheduled vs. Unscheduled Cases
The ability to accommodate non-scheduled cases is a market advantage and surgeon satisfier. By quantifying non-scheduled cases by time of day, providers can make informed choices to increase utilization and optimize block schedules.


These techniques create additional “virtual” capacity to see more patients in the same quantity of space. Our approach gives instant quantitative feedback on scenarios you test, helping you balance cost and value.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR       David White MBA, LEAN/DFSS Certified
outcome_David White

David White takes a scientific approach to challenging problems, creating analytical tools that provide customized solutions. He specializes in innovative intelligence that helps clients draw meaningful conclusions, with a talent for interactive tools that support decision-making.



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