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Top Four Reasons to Join a Larger Anesthesia Practice

Becker's ASC Review

Originally published in Becker's ASC Review on July 19, 2018 – written by Marty Bonick, CEO of PhyMed.

Improving the Anesthesia Experience for Physicians and Patients. In today’s dynamic healthcare industry, independent anesthesia practices face the pressure to provide the same service level as their larger competitors, including balancing value-based care delivery with federal requirements, operational essentials, and quality demands. Joining a collaborative partnership can provide smaller anesthesia providers with the tools and strategies. they need to succeed, such as more autonomy, profit sharing and back-office support, thereby driving value throughout the perioperative continuum and transforming anesthesia from a cost center to profit center for partner organizations.

Although some providers have concerns about joining a larger practice, collaborative partnerships yield a number of strategic benefits.

1. Innovation

Technology is moving at increasingly rapid rates within the healthcare space, making it difficult for smaller practices to meet the demands of federal requirements and patient needs. Technology enables quality and operational efficiency and is a key variable to driving value in the surgical environment.

When done right, innovative technology is intended to enhance an existing practice. This may include proprietary – and anesthesia-specific – electronic medical records (EMR) that provide documentation and insight into legible and compliant anesthesia and pharmacy reconciliation. Ideally, an anesthesia information management system (AIMS) benefits anesthesiologists and their patients by facilitating electronic billing for anesthesia services, optimizing scheduling for clinical staff and patient appointments, and acting as an analytics platform that allows effective data use for a wide variety of purposes.

2. Quality Outcomes

As CMS continues to shift away from fee-for-service models, reimbursement models are progressively tied to quality and value. Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), and the associated quality programs, will impact most providers across the country, specifically as applied to the Medicare physician fee schedule’s two new tracks for reimbursement: Merit Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternate Payment Models (APMs). CMS has stated that these changes are intended to further the goal of rewarding providers for better, lower-cost patient-centered care.

Implementing industry-leading programs is one method to meet quality improvement goals.

Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) is one such program. Per the American Society of Anesthesiologists, a PSH is a patient-centered practice model where the physician-led multidisciplinary team coordinates care and guides the patient throughout the entire surgical experience. Despite the current lack of definitive evidence that implementing a PSH program could consistently lead to better quality and clinical outcomes and reduced costs, the model has shown great promise within certain facilities and research institutions.

According to research, an estimated 10 to 70 percent of all patients of the 80 million annual inpatient and outpatient surgical procedures currently performed in the United States will develop some degree of chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP) depending on the type of surgery performed. By implementing quality programs like PSH and Pain and Addiction Management programs, anesthesia practices are better situated to beat national average for protocols and achieve a reduction in readmissions and length of stay (LOS) – but they require resources, resources that are often not available within smaller practices.

3. Operational Efficiencies

Anesthesia providers face an ongoing challenge in maximizing efficiency while providing the highest quality of patient care. According to a 2016 report, 33% of anesthesiologist survey respondents who are self-employed and 35% of their employed peers spend 10 hours or more per week on paperwork and administrative tasks, with as many as six percent spending 20 hours or more. Focusing on operational needs such as revenue cycle management, medical supply management, and scheduling optimization decreases the time available to focus on patient care. Through the streamlining of operational inefficiencies, anesthesia practices can drive improved financial performance and surgery volume.

4. Patient Experience

More and more, patient experience is a driving factor within all aspects of the healthcare space. Patients are expecting more visibility and communication before, during, and after their healthcare episode. But patient satisfaction is tied to the delivery of a personalized care experience requiring insight into the risk profile of a patient prior to surgery. Focusing on the patient experience is an important strategic tool for any provider practice. Positive results drive increased satisfaction scores resulting in higher Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) results, a CMS requirement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for all hospitals in the United States.

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