Anesthesia 101: Service Expectations

By: Howard Greenfield, M.D.

In today’s healthcare environment many hospitals have very specific goals regarding patient and surgeon satisfaction as well as growth initiatives. To determine if a particular anesthesia model is right for your facility you have to weigh how each model will be able to help you meet those goals.

Quality

High quality care has always been a top priority for healthcare providers.  And in the age of healthcare reform, with reimbursement tied to outcomes, hospital leaders are looking for ways to ensure quality standards are consistently met and exceeded.

In the OR, anesthesia plays a big role in the quality of outcomes. When analyzing coverage models, consider how the group handles issues such as infection control and safety practices, and if they utilize policies and procedures based on industry best practices.  It is also wise to discuss with the group how it measures and reports quality performance so it can compare that performance to benchmarking data and identify areas for improvement.

Satisfaction

These days, low patient satisfaction scores can negatively impact reimbursement. That is why it is important that your anesthesiology group understands their role in the patient experience. Pre- and post-op care, including pain management, and on-time starts are just a few of the ways anesthesiology can affect the patient experience.

In addition, the level of surgeon satisfaction can also directly influence your bottom line.  If surgeons are not pleased with the anesthesia coverage at your hospital, they may start scheduling procedures at other facilities. For example, some surgeons prefer to work only with anesthesiologists rather than CRNAs, or may need anesthesiologists who are certified for their particular specialty.

Leadership 

Strong anesthesia leadership is key to a successful hospital/group partnership.  The person in this position should coordinate with hospital leadership to ensure the group is aware of the hospital’s quality, satisfaction and growth goals, then work with his or her group to ensure it is helping to meet those goals.

The anesthesia leader is also responsible for ensuring that the group is meeting the coverage needs for all the hospital’s locations and subspecialties. Leaders are also responsible for guiding certification and on-going training, and tracking quality, among other tasks.

It is very important to address these issues and clearly set expectations – for both parties – at the beginning stages of an anesthesiology group engagement.  However, it is perhaps even more important to put measurement procedures around these goals into place so that you can track progress, identify areas for improvement and uncover and remedy problems before they grow into larger issues.