HealthWare Systems Blog

How Cancelled Surgeries Are Affecting Your Healthcare Revenue Cycle

Posted on Mon, Sep 08, 2014

Cancelled surgeries can result from a long list of outside challenges, including unexpected changes in health status or a patient’s failure to show up. But none is more frustrating than preoperative paperwork problems.

Consider this:

At Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 66% of surgical charts were missing consent forms on patients’ arrival to the preoperative area, during a one-week survey period in 2010.

And this:

At the University of Michigan Health System, 81% of observed pre-op patients were missing at least one piece of information—including missing H&P forms/test ordersOne hundred percent of urology patients were missing at least one piece of information during the same 2007 observation period.

 From a healthcare revenue cycle perspective, statistics like these add up quickly. Because we know, for example, that a single cancelled surgery can cost between $2,000 and $6,000, depending on the medical specialty involved. Researchers at Tulane University Medical Center prepared the following table after discovering their facility lost close to $1 million in revenue, owed to elective outpatient surgery cancellations.

There are also indirect costs associated with avoidable surgery cancellations or delays.

Nurse and Physician Dissatisfaction

Every hour of surgical care already translates into 30 minutes of corresponding paperwork for healthcare providers, according to a PwC survey. When test orders and pre-op paperwork aren’t properly routed/indexed, frustrating rework contributes to dissatisfaction levels among clinicians… and may ultimately create staff retention issues.

Subpar Patient Experience

Regular waiting room delays may be frustrating for patients, but day-of-surgery waiting in preoperative areas is a much larger concern. Beyond the obvious physical implications, surgery is a major event for patients; it carries psychological, logistical, and financial consequences. Case delays and late cancellations are likely to increase anxiety levels, complicate transportation arrangements, and delay patients’ return to work. Further, studies have shown that preoperative anxiety affects postoperative satisfaction and recovery times.

Diminished Capacity and Wasted Resources

Every phase of the surgical flow process is impacted by preoperative delays. On the backend, facilities may be wasting PACU and ICU resources (waiting beds and clinical staff), while late cases linger in perioperative areas. On the front end, late starts are compounded throughout the day, resulting in more rescheduling and cancellations.

How efficient is your perioperative services department? Read more about surgical documentation and surgery center management solutions that can reduce surgical delays and cancellations at your facility.