May 16, 2022

Session: Anesthesia, friend or foe? How to best align with anesthesia partners

By: Tarsilla Moura

Editor's Note

Robert Stiefel, MD, principal at Enhance Healthcare Consulting, invited this session’s attendees to see how OR leaders can align their strategy—be it financial, staffing, or other—with anesthesia providers to maximize perioperative performance.

As with all facets of healthcare, especially seen in nursing, anesthesia providers are also facing massive staffing shortages in their space; and the deficit, Stiefel highlighted, is more glaring with nurse anesthesiologists (CRNA) rather than physicians. “Labor costs for anesthesia providers have shot through the roof,” said Stiefel.

To help combat this other side of the staffing crisis, there are several alignment opportunities between OR leadership and anesthesia providers, including facilities, OR efficiency, enhanced recovery, and quality initiatives. “It’s about getting them to recognize and pursue these opportunities for partnership,” Stiefel explained.

The alignment opportunities fall under:

  • Quality initiatives: many anesthesia quality goals align with OR goals, such as reduce SSI, reduce LOS, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce complications and readmissions.
  • Facility preference: OR leaders and hospital executives can engage with anesthesia providers to create targets to attract surgeon talent. “Include anesthesia providers in reach out/recruitment team efforts,” he said.
  • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS): engaging anesthesia partners can improve overall outcomes, length of stay, patient satisfaction, and readmission rates. “This requires senior leadership support and willingness to redesign processes,” Stiefel emphasized.
  • Staffing: the OR and anesthesia share challenges when it comes to staffing. “We must work as a team, with constant communication, to meet needs, without pointing fingers,” he said. “No one department is at fault for staffing shortages.”
  • OR efficiency: this opportunity is the trickiest, according to Stiefel, because OR-driven efficiencies might go against anesthesia targets when it comes to billable hours. “Agree on targets balancing anesthesia cost vs. capacity, and develop a data-driven framework to track utilization,” Stiefel proposed.

Stay tuned for more select OR Business Management session highlights this week.

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