Efficiency improvement in the operating room

J Surg Res. 2016 Aug;204(2):371-383. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2016.04.054. Epub 2016 Apr 29.


Background: In the changing health care environment, health systems, hospitals, and health care providers must focus on improving efficiency to meet an increasing demand for high-quality, low-cost health care. Much has been written about strategies and efforts to improve efficiency in the perioperative periods, yet the time when the patient is in the operating room-the intraoperative period-has received less attention. Yet, this is the period in which surgeons may have the most influence.

Methods: Systematically review published efforts to improve intraoperative efficiency; assess the outcomes of these efforts, and propose standardized reporting of future studies.

Results: A total of 39 studies were identified that met inclusion criteria. These divided naturally into small (single operative team), medium (multi-operative team), and large (institutional) interventions. Most studies used time or money as their metric for efficiency, though others were used as well.

Conclusions: There is substantial opportunity to enhance operating room efficiency during the intraoperative period. Surgeons may have a particular role in procedural efficiency, which has been relatively unstudied. Common themes were standardizing tasks, collecting and using actionable data, and maintaining effective team communication.

Keywords: Efficiency; Intraoperative; Lean; Operating room; Process mapping; Six sigma; Surgery; Total quality improvement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Operating Rooms / standards*
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Workflow