How Baystate Health Used Strategic Partnerships to Improve OR Efficiency And Culture
BAYSTATE HEALTH IS A LARGE, INTEGRATED health system in western Massachusetts. It includes five hospitals with nearly 1,000 beds, including the region’s only level 1 trauma center. It treats more than 800,000 patients annually and performs over 36,000 surgeries in its 56 operating rooms each year. It also conducts research and education as a teaching hospital for the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
When Elizabeth Casey joined the system as Vice President of Surgical Services in 2017, she observed a familiar set of challenges in the OR. Like many hospitals,Baystate needed to balance surgical efficiency, quality, and costs. “We sometimes had problems with turnover time and first case start times getting delayed,” Casey says. “Occasionally, a case would get canceled because equipment wasn’t ready or a tray wasn’t complete. Those problems create added costs when you unnecessarily open extra trays.”
With over 30 years of experience managing surgical services, Casey knew that hospitals had a broad toolkit available to address these challenges, including contract partners. She had previously worked with several vendors and chose to bring in one of her preferred partners, Surgical Solutions, to provide services for minimally invasive and robotic surgery, including equipment, personnel, room setup and breakdown, and sterile processing support.
As the partnership with Surgical Solutions progressed,Baystate Health enjoyed rapid operational and financial improvements. When describing the benefits,Casey states that the workflow problems are gone:“Equipment-related cancellations in MIS and robotics are non-existent,” she says. “There are no more problems with trays. We’re saving money on supply costs and no longer having issues with breakage of expensive, delicate instruments. Most importantly, we now have people with great knowledge and expertise troubleshooting equipment issues. That lets our staff stay in the room and care for the patient.”
Although those improvements are significant, Casey is quick to note that the biggest benefits from the partnership went beyond operational changes to important intangibles like customer service orientation and the ability to spur culture change.
“It’s not just about cost savings or improved turnover time,” explains Casey. “What I was looking for, and what I found, is a partner who cares about customer service and notices if a surgeon is upset and can say, ‘I’m here.I’ve got what you need.’ This partner has the experience to anticipate and preemptively solve problems.It’s like a 24/7 concierge service. That makes everyone feel more comfortable, which creates trust and then leads to identifying and addressing more problems.Surgical Solutions didn’t just bring equipment-related best practices—it brought leadership and improved the culture of the OR. And the intent of all of that is to better care for the patient.”
“It’s not just about cost savings or improved turnover time. What I was looking for [in a contract partner], and what I found, is a partner who cares about customer service. . . . This quality of partnership is difficult to find.”
Although many vendors can offer knowledge, Casey points out that few provide the intangible support she wanted for her health system. “This quality of partnership is difficult to find,” she says. “It sometimes seems too good to be true. But it’s working for us.”