There are significant challenges in the field of anesthesiology.

As demand increases for anesthesiology services, there is a severe shortage of certified anesthesiologists, CPNs and anesthesia assistants, and the field of anesthesiology is bearing the brunt of disruptions and realignments in Health care. In addition to weathering the labor crisis, anesthesiology can also elevate its value proposition and find strength in numbers.

During the Becker’s CSA Review and Becker Spine Examination 19th Annual ASC Conference on Spine, Orthopedics and Pain Management, at a workshop sponsored by SCA Health, Kathy Grichnik, MD, Chief of Anesthesia Services at SCA Health, discussed the main challenges that anesthesiology operators face in the outpatient market and how to overcome them.

Four key ideas were:
1. Anesthesia is essential to the entire ASC care experience. Anesthesia does not start and end in the operating room; it plays a central role across the spectrum of care delivery, affecting clinical outcomes and overall patient satisfaction. The involvement of anesthesiologists covers decision-making regarding whether to refer a patient to an outpatient facility, pre-surgical optimization, pre-operative assessment, inter-operative care, acute recovery and discharge. “Part of value-based care management relies on our ability to collaborate with all physicians, especially those with independent practices,” Dr. Grichnik said.

2. Despite their centrality, anesthesiologists face a hostile operational and business environment. Some of the trends driving the headwinds include the consolidation of independent physician practices, shrinking provider networks, contract cancellations, and continued declines in reimbursement rates from commercial and private payers. These changes are impacting the bargaining power of anesthesiologists even as the demographic demand for their services increases. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of 12,500 anesthesiologists by 2033.

3. To demonstrate their value in the face of market forces, anesthesiologists need data. The most direct way to show the role of anesthesiology in achieving quality outcomes is to have access to performance measures. “It gives you the opportunity to have a data-aligned discussion,” Dr. Grichnik said, noting that alignment between surgeons, anesthesiologists and facility management actors is critical for a successful CHW.

For example, alignment is needed around preoperative assessment, interoperative protocols, medication choices, and types of anesthesia. KPI dashboards that keep track of quality metrics such as case cancellation reasons, first cases on time, clinical hours worked per case, medication spend, and length of stay in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) can support these discussions.

4. Financial support for anesthesiology operators consists of becoming preferred providers and aiming for economies of scale. To ensure revenue continuity, anesthesiologists should consider partnering with multiple sites in a geographic region, be open to all types of value-based agreements, and potentially merge with another or more anesthesia groups instead. to go it alone.

High-quality anesthesiology services are critical to CHWs’ goals of increasing volume, profitability, and growth. To highlight the value they bring, anesthesiologists must be able to demonstrate performance measures, staff alignment with facilities. supporting revenue cycle operations and aligning with building value-based programs.

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