4 steps to take now to get your hospital and supply chain ready for the return of elective surgeries and procedures

By: John Raab

As the COVID-19 virus flared up, many states prohibited elective surgeries. Now, many of those same states are lifting some restrictions and elective surgeries are starting to return to hospitals. As a supply chain professional, you may be contemplating the return of elective surgeries at your hospital or have even started them back up again on a limited basis. But are you ready for when elective surgeries get fully ramped up? Here are four steps you can take now to get your supply chain ready for when elective procedures and surgeries fully return.

Identify procedures you will focus on

As you open elective surgeries back up, certain procedures will have higher volumes than others. One way to identify these is to look at your historical volume and which procedures were performed most over a given time. At the same time, you can consult with your surgeons and other clinical staff to understand their priorities by procedure and what backlogs they might have as elective surgeries ramp up. From these pieces of information, you should get a sense of the mix of surgeries and what surgeries you will be performing the most.

Determine overall volume levels

Once you have identified your focus procedures, you can begin determining the overall volume levels of elective surgeries. If you're performing surgeries during the same days and the same hours with the same mix as pre-COVID-19, you can look at historical data as one way to determine volume levels. But if you're like a lot of hospitals and you plan to expand the days and hours elective surgeries are being performed or focus on a select few procedures, then you can't rely on historical volume to forecast future volume and need another way.

One way is to start by determining how many days per week and hours per day you'll be performing surgeries. Next, look at historical data on how long it takes you to turn over a procedure from case to case. It's important to review room turnover times by procedure since different procedures take longer than others. Then, determine the number of procedure rooms you'll be using. these three pieces of data, when combined, should give you a good idea of projected surgical volumes.

Have the right level of supplies for the anticipated volume

Once you've estimated the number and type of procedures, you can next calculate the amount of supplies you need for those elective surgeries. Start by determining whether you're going to be building generic kits or surgeon specific kits for those procedures. The former is easier because there will be less variability in the supplies used to build the kids. Either way, you can determine the level of supplies need by looking at historical data on supplies used by procedure and by surgeon and then applying that against the projected volume.

Have the right staffing level

Having the right amount of staff is probably one of the hardest aspects to plan for, but also one of the most critical to get right when elective surgeries fully ramp up. You not only need the right level of staffing to treat and care for the projected number of patients, you also need the right level of staff to prep for those cases- especially to pick and pack the kits for the procedures. But staff are not supplies that you can simply order more of as elective surgery volumes increase. Staff is often a finite resource that is difficult if not impossible to get more of, especially now. That's why it's critical to get the staffing levels right as elective surgeries return.

You don't have to do it yourself

Determining the right volumes, having the right supplies and staffing levels, and maintaining the highest level of patient care may seem overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. Services like Owens & Minor's SurgiTrack® can help you with the return of elective surgeries by providing you with the supplies and the staff to pick those supplies so you don't have to.

SurgiTrack® is a comprehensive clinical supply delivery service that, at its core, delivers custom surgery kits based on procedure and physician preference right to your facility, at the right time, ready to use. SurgiTrack® experienced staff works with you to determine volumes and procedures as you ramp up elective surgeries, and builds out either generic kits by procedure or custom kits based on surgeon preference. SurgiTrack® maintains the inventory of supply and the staff to pick and pack those supplies, allowing you to focus on what you do best- providing outstanding patient care. To find out more about SurgiTrack®, call 804-723-7486 or visit our SurgiTrack page.