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Is your anesthesia group your partner or your problem?

Posted by Lee Hedman on Sep 10, 2019 2:00:00 PM
Lee Hedman

Anesthesia practices around the country struggle with meeting service requirements as healthcare delivery strategies continue to evolve quickly. Hospital CEO’s are charged with expanding services, that includes growing surgical volume. However, CEO’s often hear that anesthesia practices are not providing staff when surgeons add new cases outside of their block or prime time. If there is no anesthesia coverage, new cases cannot proceed, limiting growth. In situations like this, CEO’s wonder what they can do to make sure their anesthesia group is better engaged and how they can continue to help pull their weight on the surgical team.

What constitutes a great anesthesia group?

Hospitals with an established anesthesia group that have great clinical outcomes might lack collaboration with administration, surgeons and perioperative nurses. If that happens to be the case or at least the “feeling”, how should it be handled? The typical reaction is to decide to work around the problem and just send out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to other anesthesia groups. Going straight to an RFP might not be the best business decision.

Great anesthesia groups that will provide the best delivery of care can confidently answer “yes” to the following questions:

  1. Are the anesthesiologists allowed to function in a medical director role within the OR?
  2. Does the group take ownership for pre-admission testing?
  3. Is there a sense of just culture within the surgical suite?
  4. Are perioperative services meeting best practice standards?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions it might be time to speak to the anesthesia providers and ask why they are not operating at a high level. Anesthesia should be working with the OR Director, surgeons and administration for the same mission and goals of the hospital or health system. If you are not getting the answers you need or find that the issue may be a void in leadership, it’s time to work with your anesthesia practice on various strategies to reach the same goal. One of the first steps to explore could be anesthesia leadership.

Before sending out an RFP for an anesthesia practice, a hospital CEO should consider certain challenges. For example, the reaction to such an RFP is often quite negative within the organization because it is a major change to the surgeons, nurses, and in many respects, the patients. It takes a great deal of time and energy to negotiate a contract to replace a dedicated anesthesia group. Leadership from the outside can help foster a positive relationship amongst peers, upgrade clinical quality if needed and help learn to take ownership for processes such as pre-admission testing, pain clinic, first case on time starts and turnover time. Given a governance committee is in place, together the culture of the group as well as perioperative services can become more positive and financially successful. Collaboration will begin to become natural and foster a positive impact on the performance of the operating room.

Interim Anesthesia leadership can change the existing culture of a hospital or health system through positive reinforcement of clinical, operational and financial directives; while providing personal and professional growth opportunities for the providers. An interim leader can cultivate and mentor other anesthesia colleagues to a higher standard of partnership and care and change the course of an anesthesia group to meet the mission of the hospital or health system.

An Interim Anesthesia Medical Director can change the culture within the group and the operating room. Culture plays a role in optimizing the patient experience, surgeon satisfaction and nursing retention. An outside voice for an established time frame allows for voices to be heard, conversations to be crucial in nature yet change the course of action in a positive way that allows the group to be successful, individuals to prosper and perioperative services to build consensus on the delivery of care.

If you have a need to bridge the gap between your hospital and anesthesia group or a need for an interim Anesthesia Medical Director, Surgical Directions can you help you! click on the contact button below.

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Tags: Improving Communication, Collaboration in the OR, Operating Room Collaboration, perioperative services, Anesthesia, Performance Improvement, Surgical Volume, Partnerships, C-Suites, Surgical Care

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