Anesthesia: An Important Component in Improving Efficiency at ASCs




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The front-page article in this month’s volume of Becker’s ASC Review, lists 10 ways ambulatory surgery centers can continue to improve efficiency. Many of the tips – allowing for early starts, promoting teamwork and leadership, and constant communication – have merit. After all, without a committed team willing to go the extra mile, efficiency will only go so far.

One area that wasn’t mentioned, and that can be an impetus for rapid improvement in efficiency, is a well-run, accountable anesthesia department.  However, the oversight may be for legitimate reason. Once a revenue-generating specialty for many ASCs, the anesthesia department is now looked at as a cost center due to the inefficiency of the anesthesia team.

In fact, over the next three years, you can expect many surgery center anesthesia departments to convert from cash flow positive to cash flow negative.  In an era of healthcare reform, payers will now be mandated to provide certain benefits, even to those who do not need or want them. The impact will be two-fold: (1) non-mandated coverage will be deemed discretionary and will be either pared down or eliminated, and (2) a clear distinction will emerge between privately-held surgery centers and government-owned and operated facilities.

To ensure that the service remains a positive source of revenue generation, anesthesia’s impact and partnership should be thoroughly evaluated at every facility you work. Consider the following:

  • Does my anesthesia provider require a subsidy? If so, are they fully transparent with the allocation of resources?
  • Has my anesthesia provider consider alternative staffing models to improve efficiency while reducing costs?
  • Does my anesthesia provider have an in-house quality assurance department capable of generating and obtaining pertinent reimbursement data?
  • Does my anesthesia department partner with the center to help grow the volume by meeting with area surgeons to attract them to bring their cases to the center?

In addition to maximizing the professional service provided through the management of resources and services provided (acute pain, chronic pain, medical directorship, etc.), the collaborative role anesthesia plays with the center to ensure stellar quality outcomes, superior patient and surgeon satisfaction results, and center growth, should be unequivocally apparent. Your anesthesia provider should be heavily involved in many, if not all, of the following:

  • Preoperative evaluation, workups and optimization for surgery 
  • Post-operative care, treatment of pain, nausea and vomiting 
  • Stellar intraoperative care 
  • Patient satisfaction data (HCAHPS)
  • Surgeon satisfaction data (annual surveys)
  • Untoward admissions to the hospital 
  • Sentinel event recording and presentation 

To learn more about how Somnia has helped improve efficiency at multi-specialty ASC in Kentucky, download our case study here. Alternatively, read how Somnia’s experience in the GI space allowed a start-up ASC to exceed expectations.

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