September 22, 2016
It’s not surprising that surgeons report high levels of burnout and a lack of professional satisfaction; nor is it surprising that the problem is getting worse. This creates concern for both the well-being of surgeons and the quality of patient care. A study on Burnout and Career Satisfaction among American Surgeons cites the “… strong associations between physician burnout/dissatisfaction with medical errors, prescribing habits, patient compliance, patient satisfaction with their medical care, and medical malpractice suits.”
As with other problems that might seem overwhelming, however, small adjustments can make a big difference. Here are some ways you can move the needle on surgeon satisfaction and, by extension, create efficiencies, lower costs, and realize better patient outcomes.
Streamline Your Operating Room Processes
Surgeon performance and satisfaction will improve if you can maintain a predictable and consistent OR schedule. Operating rooms with high surgeon satisfaction consistently have reliable start times, but provide for some flexibility, too. Emphasize the importance of an on-time start for the first patient of the day, turn your rooms quickly, and consider a swing OR model to increase efficiency. Surgeons will see that you value their time and are committed to contributing to their productivity.
Keep Surgeons Informed
Make sure that your surgeons know you have their best interests in mind and that you value their input. Encourage OR directors and team members to communicate frequently with surgeons; proactively ask for their recommendations, especially related to operating room improvement plans. Establishing a good rapport with surgeons helps drive process improvements that benefit the surgeon, the hospital, and the patients.
Boost Surgeon Confidence and Trust
Providing a surgeon with consistent and familiar OR support staff plays a significant role in satisfaction, cost containment, and the quality of patient care. When clinicians and technicians know a surgeon’s preferences, such as having the room set up with the desired instruments and equipment, it creates efficiencies that help keep the OR on schedule. Understanding how the surgeon works, familiarity with his or her communication style, and the ability to anticipate the surgeon’s next steps promote confidence and trust, which drive better clinical performance and patient outcomes.
Provide Helpful Tools
Technology and operating room capabilities are constantly advancing. Work with surgeons to identify tools and aids that improve productivity and communication. For example, some surgeons might appreciate receiving text message reminders of upcoming surgeries to help them arrive at the OR on time. Be honest with surgeons if they request changes or equipment that you won’t be able to provide, and explain why. If possible, offer other options until those tools can be obtained. The surgeon will appreciate your ability to make improvements while also setting realistic expectations.
These are just some of the ways you can influence surgeon satisfaction. Making small adjustments will pay off in better communication, more collaborative relationships, and heightened trust—creating a sense of teamwork that is fundamental to developing next-level improvements that can have a big impact on efficiency, cost savings, and the quality of patient care. Download our guide for more ideas and to learn how we can help.