Why Collecting Information in the OR is Vital

Hospitals utilize advanced software solutions to improve processes, streamline workflow, and optimize resources. By 2026, the health care information industry is forecasted to grow by 8.2 percent. Yet while these solutions specialize in data management and analysis procurement processes, they are not suited to the specific needs and work conditions in hospitals, resulting in deficient data collection.

Any effective solution must answer the changing and exclusive needs of operating rooms, which differ greatly from other work areas.

Data Integrity in the OR Has Enormous Economic Implications
First and foremost, data integrity in the OR gives us the ability to know how much surgical procedures cost. Today, hospitals rely on historical Diagnosis Related Groups repositories. But times have changed, and there is no reason to make economic forecasts based on old data.

An average hospital consumes about 5,000 implants and medical devices a month. Although hospitals strive to record each item individually, the level of reporting today is below 60 percent. Take items such as sewing thread or medical staples: Though they are present in almost every procedure and can run up costs by $200 in some cases, they are not reported at all. In addition, items that cannot be tagged (such as sterile orthopedic implants – screws, plates, etc.) or bulk items are often not reported.

Also there is the time spent on coding errors and the need to submit applications for reimbursement from insurance companies or Medicare programs (which often require applications within 72 hours), and you have a full-fledged recipe for inefficient cost retrieval. Today, there is a whole market of companies that offer this service at a fee, and hospitals share with them the money received from the insurance company and government programs.

Stop Relying on the Medical Teams
Research shows that procurement software and hospitals' information management systems (ERPs) that are advanced and designed for health systems in practice slow down nurses' work even more than manual documentation. Sometime the reporting is even made manually in notebooks, causing human error, coding errors, and lack of reporting. Those are the main reasons for the low compliance rate in the OR. Therefore, no matter how advanced the management software is, if it does not have the right tools to collect the information without involving the medical staff, it is not an appropriate solution that can achieve 100 percent reliability and integrity of data.

Incomplete Information Creates Problems in Maintaining an Updated Item Master
The first step in maintaining an updated item master begins with the consumption of the medical device. The medical staff needs to report the item usually through scanning techniques. If the existing software does not identify the scanned item, the incomplete information needs to be completed from other sources.

Most hospitals receive medical implants according to the manufacturer's SKU and then give the implants an internal catalog number. This SKU does not specify an expiration date, production series, and other essential information about the item, because that would require much work and the ability to read multiple manufacturers’ barcodes. The manufacturer's SKU often changes, items age, new suppliers are added, and as a result, the maintenance of the item master becomes one of the hospital's biggest problems, with financial and clinical implications.

Full Compliance with FDA Regulations
Although the integrity of the information is important and the synchronization of the data is essential, unfortunately, the consolidation of such information is not the norm.

Occasionally there is a recall, which requires the hospitals and the supplier to locate all items and the patients who use the implants. This is an impossible task when there is no complete listing of all items used and full documentation in the patient's medical file. A thorough process would be terribly time consuming.

Medical Device Reporting (MDR) is the FDA regulatory tool for monitoring the performance of medical devices. When suspicion arises as to the safety of a product, medical organizations must provide critical information, such as patient information, date, description of the case involving the medical device, and brand information—product code, model number, serial number, expiration date, etc.

Yet in reality, without the consolidation of clinical and logistic information and high documentation compliance by the medical staff, hospitals are unable to provide the above information despite their obligation to do so. This is one of the main factors driving hospitals to purchase information management software.

Utilizing Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Most of today's tools rely on technologies that have been adapted to work in the operating room but do not fully address the problems mentioned here. In other words, advanced software does not include advanced data collection in the field.

The first step is changing the perception in the OR—the human is no longer part of data-processing. The solution is fully automated: The medical team does not need to enter any information and is uninvolved in documentation and data management. The good news is that the future is in many ways already here, by introducing machine learning and artificial intelligence. Those technologies' processing will be increasingly utilized in the field's end devices, placed inside the OR and procedurals room and collecting the data in real-time. Technologies such as image processing technologies, OCR, ICR, microphones, or even sensors can collect, process, and manage the information optimally.

Hospitals are already investing money in comprehensive data collection solutions to help complement their existing ERP systems. Software companies and ERP systems, for their part, are also investing money in developing such solutions. This trend is expected to intensify as more hospitals recognize the benefits of automated data collection.

Shlomo Matityaho is the CEO of LogiTag Medical Solutions, [email protected].

Posted on Jun 20, 2019

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