Introduction: Operating room information systems should guide the allocation of the optimal amount of block time for every surgeon. This should minimize the sum of costs of unused block time as it should minimize the costs of elective cases being performed outside normal block times. In the present paper, we want to illustrate how the introduction of a visual display of real-time OR activity, as part of an Operating Room Scheduling and Management System, influenced our daily OR activity performance in view of unused or excess OR time.
Materials and Methods: Since January 2001, we introduced an OR status screen, chronologically displaying all scheduled OR activity pro OR suite. This screen is linked in real-time activity with all OR suites, where predefined tracking events (start and ending of procedure) are automatically captured by network technology. For the aim of this paper, we compared all data of OR activity performance for abdominal surgery for the first half of 2000 to the first half of 2001, using the Mann-Whitney U-test.
Results: From January to June 2000, 764 elective cases were performed, whereas 815 cases were performed during the first half of 2001. For both periods, the total OR time allocated to abdominal surgery for this 6 months period was 805 hrs. For 2000, the total duration of OR activity performed for elective abdominal surgery was 1044 h 50 min (resulting in 239 h 50 min total over-time), whereas for 2001 a total of 1127 h 35 min (resulting in 322 h 35 min total over-time) was registered. For 2000, we recorded 147 h 20 min of excess time (exceeding the time limits of normal OR activity and inducing extra costs) and 46 h 45 min of unused OR time (within the total OR time allocated to elective abdominal surgery). For 2001, we recorded 123 h 04 min of excess time and 35 h 21 min of unused time.
Conclusions: In 2001, we recorded an increase in total OR activity for elective abdominal surgery by 7% in number of procedures (815 vs 764) and by 8% in total duration (1127 h 35 min vs 1044 h 50 min). However, this increase did not result in an increase in excess time or in extra costs, mainly by a significant reduction in unused time or by an increased performance.