Operating Room Efficiency measurement made simple by a single metric

Ann Ig. 2021 Jan-Feb;33(1):100-102. doi: 10.7416/ai.2021.2411.


Operating room (OR) efficiency is a hot topic in OR management studies. Benefits of OR efficiency maximization include financial savings, improved patient safety, greater satisfaction for patients and health workers, and increased productivity. However, how to measure the efficiency of an OR suite still remains a pending question. Many performance indicators have been developed (1) and one of the most frequent approaches consists of choosing a set of indicators to create a dashboard for the monitoring of surgical activities. Macario proposed a scoring system based on eight performance indicators (2). A similar approach was used in The Canadian Paediatric Surgical Wait Times Project (3). Although the use of dashboards and scoring systems allows for a wide and in-depth understanding of the numerous factors that contribute to efficiency, it may also raise problems. The use of multiple indicators involves gathering large amounts of data that are not routinely available in every context and are subject to different interpretations if metrics show divergent trends. Moreover, it is not possible to properly establish relative weights among metrics. We propose a different approach, based on a single and overall indicator that can be used as a proxy for OR efficiency. We considered four elements as a minimum set for composing our indicator: raw utilization (RU), turn-over time (TT), preparation time (PT) and case cancellation (CC) (4). RU formed the basis for our considerations, as it is one of the most common and widespread performance indicators. RU represents the percent of time that patients spend in OR during resource hours.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Child
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Humans
  • Operating Rooms*