The Importance of Electronic Preference Cards


I was listening an episode of “The Indicator,” which highlighted the importance of the operating room (OR) as a profit center as well as a cost center in a hospital or an Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC). With the COVID-19 recovery starting to take shape ,it is important that facilities focus on minimizing costs in their OR while still ramping up elective surgeries so that they can start building their cash reserves and operate normally.

One area that could lead to easy savings is the physician preference card. This might be true especially if your preference cards are currently on paper. Discussion from “Becker Hospital Review” highlights that wasted items resulting from outdated physician preference cards could be contributing to a substantial portion of the total supply budget at a facility. This means that hospital staff is spending time collecting items from the stock room, only to discard them without use or even worse, spend time restocking them again!

In an ideal world, the physicians, procurement teams and surgical line staff would gather in a meeting room and update preference cards on a regular basis to ensure they are optimized; however in reality, this does not happen. How can it, when the primary objective of a hospital is to take care of the patient, not perform administrative tasks?

By using electronic preference cards for operating rooms, facilities can generate data about their inventory consumption. More importantly, facilities can quickly review items that are wasted and items that are being restocked without use. This is something each facility should do as a best practice after every procedure to maximize their supply usage.

A modern, web-based electronic preference card system should allow you to create, share and edit your physician preference cards on any device of your choosing. This would drive physician engagement and help ensure that you have the data to keep preference cards updated. An automated system that constantly compares items on your preference cards with items used in the OR can also streamline the updates without any additional burden on staff. Taking it one step further, adding automation rules with the ability to control them will help ensure that the unique needs of your facilities are met.

Finally, a comprehensive reporting system, that at the very minimum displays the cost and waste of each procedure compared to the associated preference card, will help ensure that supply pulled from the stock room does not go to waste and hurt your bottom line, all while having no impact on the patient.

Nikhil Bhatia, Director, Product Strategy