Comparing Apples to Apples – a deep dive into Anesthesia productivity

March 25, 2019

A review article by Dr. Amr Abouleish et. al. in the February 2019 issue of Anesthesiology offers an in depth analysis of anesthesia group productivity. Their focus is only on surgical anesthesia (non-obstetric care) and points out the nuances of comparing across facilities and areas of care.  Anesthesia billing data may be broken down to generate many data points including hours worked, ASA units generated per hour worked, and ASA units per staffed anesthetizing site. These data points may be used to compare facilities within health systems or across different systems and to answer questions such as:

  •        Are we as productive as we should be?
  •        Do we work longer hours than other groups?
  •        Why has our productivity changed?
  •        Why do anesthesiologists at one hospital produce more than another hospital?

The most valuable and actionable information should be applied among like facilities – ASC’s to ASC’s, academic center to academic center etc. Using hypothetical examples, the authors demonstrate how ASA unit data can be properly (and improperly) be applied to questions like those above.

EHC NOTE: This study offers an in depth look into the measurement and interpretation of anesthesia operating room productivity. In our work, individual provider productivity is often proposed as a measure of relative workload. In reality, such measures are difficult to apply across groups, staffing models (all physician vs Care Team) and facility types. While the review article discussed is a relatively long read, it does a good job highlighting many common misconceptions. Productivity is complex, and depending on how it is measured, the results may not reflect reality. If you have a few minutes, take a brief comedic flashback to the “Productivity Expert” Lucille Ball in this brief clip.   

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