Breaking Through the Surgical Care Continuum

With more than 28,000 hours spent in operating rooms, John Mrachek, MD, says surgical care is in need of an innovative breakthrough. His idea? Better preoperative patient preparation.

Interested in radically changing the way surgical care is delivered in the United States, John, anesthesiologist at American Anesthesiology of Minnesota, has spent years studying the continuum of surgical care and believes there’s an opportunity to apply scientific rigor in the preoperative period to drive better outcomes, reduce costs and fully engage the patient.

He has an idea of bringing innovation to the U.S. healthcare market, and we caught up with John to learn more about the user need, why he’s doing this now, and what he’s afraid of.

John Mrachek, MDWas there a “last straw” moment which propelled you into action for better surgical care?

Over the course of a year, I had the opportunity to intervene in the care of a few patients early in their operative journey. This opportunity to work with these patients upstream in the continuum of their care allowed me to structurally guide their preoperative preparation, leading to patients who were better prepared. They were “ready” for surgery — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They had a better postoperative course, they got out of the hospital sooner, they returned to their work faster, and they reported a different experience — a dramatically better experience. This was the moment I said, I need to try to reproduce this, and we need to do this for every patient, every time.

What is the user need your idea will satisfy?

It will satisfy different needs for each user:

  • Patient: Engage them more fully, provide actionable knowledge, help them help themselves
  • Physician: Provide a better prepared patient—physically and emotionally
  • Hospital/health system: Drive improved outcome and patient satisfaction, add capacity
  • Payer: Reduce costs, increase profit

What about your idea scares you?

That it is too big and complicated for me to execute. That I will fall into the trap of listening to the voice in my head that says, you can’t do this: you are not smart enough, not good enough, not talented enough, you don’t have what it takes, etc. But as strange as this may sound, I am much more afraid of not trying than I am of failing.

What would you tell your kids if they wanted to pursue a bold idea?

Do it! It’s what makes life worth living. There is no guarantee of success, but the journey and effort are just as important. Every bold idea can look impossible at the beginning. Don’t let your inner voice or the doubters deter you. Remember:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

-Teddy Roosevelt

What is your superpower?

Wonder … and an ability to see a better future. I have an unwillingness to accept the status quo and I have a laser focus on the best future state. In many ways I am not your typical anesthesiologist. I believe we can and should improve the preoperative preparation of all surgical patients.

What are you searching for?

Joy, purpose, impact, improvement. Better sleep.

What are you reading?

Clinical research articles, Innovator’s Dilemma and All the Light We Cannot See.

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Do this: Think about an idea you are pursuing. What needs does it address? If there are different users, how are those needs unique? Write down these needs and keep them front and center, because meeting those needs is what will propel your success.

Hear more about John Mrachek and his quest to improve surgical care at our next Member Morning Series, during which he’ll share his journey and tap into the audience for support and wisdom. Get your tickets here (this event is for Studio/E members only).

If you’re interested in Member Morning Series events like this one, consider becoming a Studio/E member.

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