Amanda Akers

Involve Physicians for Better Preference Card Management

Preference cards are a critical asset to surgical facilities, and the importance of effective preference card management to operational efficiency in surgical facilities has garnered attention in recent years. Preference cards contain detailed information about operating room setup that is specific to each surgeon and each procedure that surgeon performs. The specificity of these cards allows surgeons with unique preferences and techniques to be hyper-specific in the way they operate. Successful management of preference cards ensures the smooth flow of surgical operations, reduces delays, minimizes errors, and optimizes patient care.

Traditional preference card management is a tedious and largely manual process, and thus it primarily falls under the domain of clinicians and administrative staff rather than that of the surgeons themselves. Beyond the initial creation of preference cards, in fact, most hospitals cease to involve physicians at all. Yet evidence suggests that including physicians in the management of preference cards can offer substantial benefits to healthcare organizations.

Without physician involvement, preference cards are more likely to be imprecise. Physician preferences often change without notice, and unless a surgeon happens to alert a clinician when he or she wants to try something different, the change may take some time to make its way to the preference card, increasing the likelihood for waste and inefficiency. Additionally, many facilities are recognizing the importance of surgeons better understanding the cost of their cards and the procedures they perform.

preference card management

But physician involvement in preference card management poses unique problems. First, any participation by physicians necessitates a process that requires as little effort as possible. Traditional preference card management is notoriously tedious and time-consuming, and inducing regular physician engagement is thus unlikely. Second, physician involvement must be controlled. Although physicians dictate what goes onto the cards, it is the clinicians and service leads who actually “own” and manage the cards. In order to maintain quality control, they must rubber stamp any changes the physicians request. Physician involvement is thus valuable to preference card management, but given the limitations of traditional processes, many hospitals find it too difficult to attempt.

The good news is that Preference Card Management (PCM) software is a growing enterprise that many hospitals are beginning to take advantage of. PCM software is far more than a digital storage platform for preference cards. Using automation and AI-driven algorithms, it eliminates the effort and guesswork that accompanies traditional preference card management. It also enables physicians to participate in cleaning and updating their preference cards in an easy-to-use platform and a controlled environment. And it allows clinicians, physicians, and supply chain personnel to collaborate and better understand the needs of the hospital.

The Benefits of Physician Involvement in Preference Card Management

The benefits for hospitals that include physicians in preference card management are many.

  1. Better Preference Card Accuracy
  2. Physicians possess the best understanding of the procedures they perform and have in-depth knowledge of exactly what they need for an optimal operation. By occasionally reviewing their preference cards, especially for the procedures they perform most frequently, they can ensure that the cards reflect exactly the supplies they require for specific surgeries. Their involvement guarantees that preference cards are both accurate and better aligned with evolving standards of care, leading to improved OR efficiency and surgical outcomes.

  3. Easier Supply Standardization
  4. Bringing physicians into the conversation around cost-effective supplies can help a hospital standardize preference cards across surgical teams. Standardization leads to numerous benefits for hospitals, including streamlining inventory management, better OR efficiency and patient care, and optimizing every dollar spent on surgical supplies.

  5. Improved Collaboration & Efficiency
  6. Physician engagement in preference card management can foster better communication and collaboration between clinical and administrative staff. Open communication channels between physicians and administrative personnel can address concerns, clarify preferences, and identify areas for improvement. This collaboration promotes a sense of shared responsibility and accountability among the entire surgical team, leading to better workflow coordination in the OR.

  7. Better Cost Awareness
  8. Involving physicians ensures they better understand the cost of surgical supplies and the expense of their preference cards as a whole. Cost awareness can help motivate physicians to ensure obsolete or unnecessary supplies are removed from their cards. It can also prompt them to make more cost-conscious decisions when lower cost supplies are available.

  9. Lower Cost Per Card
  10. Enabling physicians not only to review their own cards but also to compare their cards with those of their peers allows them to identify and understand differences in cost between the cards. Physicians often enjoy a competitive environment and may be incentivized to lower the cost of their own cards.

Physician involvement in preference card management is a valuable asset to healthcare organizations, positively influencing surgical operations, patient care, and financial outcomes. PrefTech is the nation’s leading provider of Preference Card Management software and provides physicians an easy and controlled method in which to participate in the process of managing preference cards. To learn more about what PrefTech can do for your hospital, contact us today.