Perfect patient experience? The doctor has to have their own operating room

perfect patient experience

Want to offer patients the perfect patient experience when it comes to their surgical procedure? Then there’s one thing the doctor must do: be in 100% control of the perioperative (pre-, intra-, and postop-) experience. And to do that, the doctor must have their own office-based operating room.

 

That time I just missed providing the perfect patient experience

While I do have my own accredited operating room in my office, one of my patients wanted to use her insurance for her breast reduction. If you can prove shoulder or back pain, insurance may cover the cost of your procedure. But be careful. It’s not always a sure thing. Read this to better understand the risks (yes the risks!) of using your insurance if you have a high deductible health plan for outpatient procedures. But I digress.

 

Anyway, the operation at the hospital went smoothly in the operating room. In the immediate postop period in the recovery room, things were great as well. I checked on the patient in the recovery room and she was appreciative. Since she was stable, I left the hospital.

 

As far as I knew, it was the perfect patient experience. But then the patient called a few days later. She said she was happy with her results but she had to get something off her chest (no pun intended). She said the last interaction she had that day was with the nurse in Phase II of the recovery room (the phase right before being discharged home), According to the patient, the nurse – the very last interaction the patient had among many interactions that day –  was rude and very dismissive of her pain.

 

So even though the operation was a success and overall the experience was uneventful, there was one and only one interaction that ruined it all.

 

Controlling the entire experience in an office-based operating room

A nurse or any employee in my office would not be that dismissive of a patient, including a postop patient. One, they know it’s unacceptable. But two, they know they’re going to see that patient at their postop appointment. It would be awkward seeing a patient again that they were previously rude to in the recovery room. Being in control of the entire perioperative experience, including the personnel, is the only way to provide the perfect patient experience.

 

I’m not saying that every doctor’s office that has their own operating room can provide a perfect patient experience. Certainly patient perception is also a factor in their experience. We can attempt to manage a patient’s expectations, but even still, they may perceive a less than perfect experience. All we as clinicians can do is provide the perfect experience (whether they know it or not)! And if a perfect patient experience is to be had, it will only occur if the doctor has their own operating room and 360 degree control of the entire process.

 

As the story above demonstrates, you don’t know who the patient will interact with in a hospital or surgery center during the perioperative process. Even in the operating room, you don’t always know who your operating room staff will be at a hospital or outpatient facility. Having new staff in each operation isn’t only a problem for the patient experience, it can even lead to complications and a poor outcome as this study out of Harvard reveals.

 

Pros and cons of having your own operating room

The vertical integration of an operating room into an office has its ups and downs. There is the issue of hiring excellent staff and the added cost.  But that is easily outweighed by providing a better experience for the patient, staff and doctor.

 

Of course it’s not possible for every doctor to have their own operating room in their office. This may not apply to every surgical specialty. However, these same principles can be adapted to address inefficiencies in the hospital setting to the extent it is possible. For example, in many hospitals, the heart surgeons lease the operating room from the hospital and hire all of the staff for the OR.

 

In this way, they are able to better control the perioperative experience for their patients. And at the same time, they have the necessary supporting services (heart lung machine, ICU, cardiac rehab, etc). So when seeing a surgeon in consultation for a procedure, ask if they are the “master of their domain” (the OR)! They’ll be taken aback by the question, but it could be the difference between a wonderful, mediocre or poor experience.

 

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