Operating Room of the Future

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The Project
» Operating Room of the Future «

Within the context of the project “Operating Room of the Future” answers should be found to the questions of how and to what extent the situation of hospitals will change further — and what ways hospitals have to go today to remain competitive in the future too. To that end, the DTVmed has dealt intensively with the challenges that await the hospitals in the near future.

Besides profitability and sustainability, the growing demands of a new generation of employees and patients stand on the agenda. The focus thereby is on the supply to and operation of the operating rooms. The association has commissioned a metastudy on that. On that basis, a panel of experts will discuss future solutions for operating room supplies as part of a round table.

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The number of public or charity hospitals is in decline. Most today are in the private sector, trend upwards.

With that, the hospitals system is developing into a private and profit-driven market. When it comes to maximising profits, the costs pressure rises. The operating room is one of the most costly areas in a hospital. One operating room-minute today is estimated at about 40 to 50 euros. With the rising costs, the time pressure also grows. To guarantee the best possible utilisation of the operating room, the processes have to be further optimised.

Patients, too, have changed. They are bigger and heavier than even only a few years ago. On top of that come the demographic trends. The birth rate is declining and life expectancy is still rising. Our society is over-aging. With the ever older and often overweight patients, the diseases are also changing. On the one hand, the number of cardio-vascular conditions is rising. On the other hand, the diseases are often more serious and occur at the same time. The medical care has to cope with this multimorbidity among patients.

And the demands patients place on the hospitals are also growing. At the same time, they have to pay for many services today out of their own pocket. So the patient becomes a customer, who needs to be convinced. Hospitals find themselves competing for patients. The key decision criterion is and remains the quality of the medical care. This is becoming a service, which has to satisfy the high demands. What is more, social parameters are playing an ever more important role. The patient is conscious of his social responsibility as a consumer. Criteria such as social compatibility, environmental awareness and sustainability are accorded great significance when choosing the right hospital.

The latter also applies to the personnel. Even today there is already a shortage of well-trained medical personnel. That puts doctors and nursing personnel in the comfortable position of being able to pick their employers. The salary is not the only decisive criterion thereby. Today’s talents are seeking employers they can identify with. Anyone embarking on a medical career will not seldom have high ethical aspirations. Here, particular attention is paid to how patients are dealt with. Sustainable and environmentally compatible management also increases the appeal of an employer.

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Qualified personnel is a scarce resource. The decision for an employer today no longer depends solely on financial aspects.

Employees want to work for companies that can identify with and whose business policies convince them. The social responsibility of the employer plays a major role thereby. Patients, too, take a more critical look at hospitals these days. The feel-good factor, especially when it comes to their own social conscience, has a decisive effect on the choice of the hospital. In the end, it is not the hospital with the greatest possible added value that succeeds, but the one that manages to give employees and patients a good feeling.

Companies in other sectors are setting an example. Frozen food producer Frosta, for example, called for purity rules for its entire product range a few years ago. By completely forgoing additives like colourings, aromatics and flavour enhancers, the company transformed itself from a conventional to a sustainable manufacturer in the frozen food segment. Following the change in business policy, the higher production costs initially resulted in significant revenue losses, but the consistent and sustainability-driven brand management soon paid off. The brand effect on the sales markets led to positive reactions among the stakeholders. Today, Frosta is one of the best known brands in the foods area.

The lemonade producer, Lemonaid, has succeeded through rigorous brand management in making its product the in-drink. All ingredients of their lemonades stem from organic production by certified cooperatives of small farmers and are traded fairly. A fixed amount per bottle sold goes to a charity founded by the company itself. Various development aid projects are supported by that charity, whose goal is a fairer and more humane form of agriculture. The concept is paying off. Customers are not buying only the product, but also the good feeling of actively participating in social transformation. From a customer perspective, that also justifies higher prices.

The issue of sustainability is, though, not only providing for higher turnovers in consumer goods, but is also paying off in financial terms, as the principle of Cradle to Cradle developed by Dr Michael Braungart shows. The idea of the chemist and process engineer is to produce things such that no garbage is produced when they are disposed of. All components can be recycled. The principle works with textiles and packaging materials just as much as with the world’s biggest container ship, which has recently been built for a Danish shipping line. The ship was built such that the individual parts can easily be separated from each other again and recycled. On the basis of Cradle to Cradle, sustainable products are being created that are a boost not only for the corporate image.

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The time pressure in the operating room is high and still rising. The resources available could be used more efficiently by optimising material flows and personnel deployment times.

The use of disposable materials in the operating room is responsible for a huge pile of garbage. Reusable textiles are a good alternative. In comparison, they are not only sustainable and environmentally friendly, but also of higher quality. The materials can be used up to 150 times, are kind on the skin and breathe actively.

The textile suppliers have long moved to gearing their products individually to the needs of operating rooms. Textiles are no longer sorted by varieties, but supplied in sets needed for the treatments concerned. By using these ready-packed sets, the hospital personnel save precious time in the operating room and thus costs.

The textile suppliers are now going a step further and are changing from product to system suppliers. The services thus go above and beyond putting the operating room sets together. The textile suppliers can manage the entire logistics process for operating room textiles, from storage, composition and delivery via collection to cleaning of the textiles. The entire logistics for operating room textiles is outsourced.

As system suppliers, the textile service providers have their sights on all areas of the supply chain. They make sure that sufficient material is always available. Materials that have reached the end of their life are automatically replaced. The outsourcing of these logistics processes harbours a major opportunity for the hospitals. They save storage space and capacities in the logistics area. The personnel need no longer worry about material procurement and can concentrate more on their core competencies.

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