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Lean Six Sigma makes wheels roll smoothly for a hospital OR

Data-driven process drives faster turnover.

Surgery cases have increased 24 percent in two years since Hurricane Katrina. Turnover time between cases is too long and unpredictable. Surgeons are frustrated. Revenue opportunities are escaping.

How can you optimize operating room efficiency?

Thibodaux Regional Medical Center launched an improvement initiative that combined Lean, Six Sigma® and modeling tools. In five months, a multi-disciplinary team supported by the GE Healthcare Performance Solutions team dramatically improved OR turnover and enhanced the work culture.

The Thibodaux Regional team used nine months of data to set baselines for two key metrics:

  • Surgeon “close to cut” time for surgeon turnaround
  • Patient “wheels out to wheels in” time for OR turnaround

Early on, the project team designated an OR flow coordinator charged with keeping
the OR on schedule: contacting surgeons, coordinating calls, and synchronizing staff and transport.

They also increased block scheduling: grouping surgery types to minimize instrument changing and enabling surgeons to perform back-to-back procedures. Other key initiatives included:

  • A medication management system that made medications more readily available in the OR and PACU
  • Workflow changes that streamlined room turnovers
  • Involving staff in developing solutions to raise the standard of care and build teamwork

Once the changes were in place, the OR saw continuous improvement. “The level of satisfaction among surgeons is higher because of this project,” observes Darcy Prejeant, master black belt with Thibodaux Regional. “They appreciate the rapid changes we made and the way everyone worked together. Even more important, the project taught us how to solve problems. We are applying lessons we learned as a core group that now meets regularly to continuously improve our perioperative services.”

“The project brought together the multiple disciplines within the OR and provided a vehicle for surgeon leadership to quickly, efficiently and positively improve the OR operation," said CEO Greg Stock.

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