COVID-19: Managing the Anticipated Surge of Elective Surgical & Procedural Volume
The United States is experiencing an unprecedented public health emergency from the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has been transforming the healthcare landscape nationwide. Per government guidance, since mid-March many provider organizations have halted nonessential care across the healthcare continuum. Among the deferred services are elective surgeries and procedures, the primary source of revenue for many hospitals.
These high-margin services have historically allowed hospitals to remain financially healthy as they take a loss on certain other services. In light of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommendation to reopen facilities to provide non-emergent, non-COVID-19 healthcare, hospital executives ought to outline strategies and tactics to attract and accommodate elective procedures in the immediate future.
In our observation, typically 70%-75% of procedures in most hospitals and 99%+ of cases in Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) are elective. These procedures generally are performed during a given time period in the day and rely highly on the available asset: physical space (operating room, pre-op and post-op space), multifunctional care providers, ancillary services, equipment, instruments and supplies.
The complexity of the operational requirement along with the dependencies on support of many functional areas outside the ORs make it challenging to optimize capacity. The pre-COVID throughput effectiveness (on-time start, room turnover, discharge effectiveness) most certainly plays a significant role in efficient use of the asset.
However, the conventional solutions are inadequate due to the pent-up demand that is growing each day, the augmented requirement ensuring patient and staff safety, and the evolving social and economic environment. In this article, we would like to explore key steps and success factors in managing the surge of elective procedures as organizations start to open up the capacity of elective volume.