Ben Franklin once said that “Time is Money,” and this can certainly be applied to patients under anesthesia. The emergence of improved regional anesthesia techniques is providing practices and patients with critical opportunities to save both time and money. Regional anesthesia differs from general anesthesia because it targets the one part, or region, of the body undergoing surgery and it usually does not require the patient to be unconscious during the procedure.
Regional anesthesia provides a significantly better postoperative patient experience, which causes a positive ripple effect for all parties. For example, regional postoperative analgesic effects decrease the dependence on opioids, reducing the risk of nausea, vomiting and other anesthesia-related side effects. This allows patients to effectively skip PACU (Post Anesthesia Care Unit) Phase 1 and transition immediately to PACU Phase 2. The time that is cut by eliminating PACU Phase 1, which varies depending on the severity of a patient’s reaction to the anesthesia, lowers costs and other unnecessary expenses. The longer a patient stays, the more space the patient consumes (and the less space available for other patients), which drives up a variety of tangible and intangible costs, such as increased employee wages and opportunity costs of another patient using the space .
The use of regional anesthesia also decreases the time a patient needs to recover in a facility before going home. In fact, depending on the procedure, a patient can be out the door in as little as 30 minutes under regional anesthesia. This decrease of time, coupled with fewer health side effects and lessened post-op pain in the crucial 24-48 hours post-surgery period, results in greater patient satisfaction. The more satisfied a patient is, the more likely they are to refer their surgeon, which further grows a practice’s patient base and thus improves key financials.
Dr. Robert Goldstein, Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer at Somnia, explains how regional anesthesia impacts patient satisfaction. He says, “The greatest patient satisfier or dissatisfier is pain control. Regional anesthesia offers an alternative to focus on the care, control the pain, and limit the patient’s time in a facility, which can provide optimal patient satisfaction.”
Regional anesthesia techniques also consume fewer resources, since they do not require supplies often used in general anesthesia and can reduce or eliminate costly drugs like anti-emetics and NSAIDs. The use of fewer resources, along with the increase in patient satisfaction and reduction in post anesthesia care time under regional anesthesia allows a practice to cut costs and increase profitability. After all, time is money.
At Somnia, we believe in providing a turnkey, solutions-based approach to anesthesia management. There are many important contributions you should expect from your anesthesia management organization. Instituting a regional anesthesia program may be one of them. We recently published a paper, “Ambulatory Anesthesia: Performance that Stands Out,” that discusses the eight key performance areas for ambulatory anesthesia quality and how to improve each on them. We are now offering a pre-release to this paper that is only accessible by clicking here!