Anesthesia Industry eAlerts
Sent to subscribers every Monday morning, our eAlerts deliver timely updates on regulatory, legislative and practice management developments of interest to anesthesia professionals.
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October 8, 2018
The new and revised Joint Commission standards for pain assessment and management for ambulatory care, critical access hospitals and office-based surgeries will go into effect in January 2019. Anesthesia groups should review their departmental policies and procedures and modify them as needed to ensure compliance.
October 1, 2018
Following dramatic growth in the provision of—and reliable reimbursement for—anesthesia services by an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist for endoscopic procedures, we are seeing isolated payer policy changes intended to limit utilization. We predict similar changes from other key payers. We advise anesthesia practices that are expanding their endoscopy service to continue, but with close monitoring of productivity and reimbursements. ABC clients interested in a detailed analysis are invited to contact their account executives.
September 24, 2018
Though rare, wrong-site nerve blocks are much more common than wrong-site surgery, according to a large incidence study. Two organizations, the Pennsylvania Society of Anesthesiologists and the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, joined forces to develop a consensus-based, peer-driven protocol that incorporates practices with unique relevance for the perioperative team.
September 17, 2018
Agile improvement methods based on an iterative project management approach first used in the software industry can be applied to a variety of problems in healthcare, including those related to anesthesia care. We review key characteristics of the Agile approach and offer examples from the scientific literature.
September 10, 2018
We summarize findings on anesthesiologist compensation from the Medscape Anesthesiologist Compensation Report 2018. The survey reports total annual compensation for anesthesiologists of an average of $386,000, a six percent increase from the 2017 report. A multitude of factors are used to determine compensation, and actual compensation figures among anesthesiologists can vary widely.
September 4, 2018
The growing use of nerve blocks for acute pain management is helping anesthesiologists improve the quality and safety of patient care. New approaches and techniques are emerging all the time. While this innovation benefits patients, it also creates billing and coding challenges and underscores the importance of having a billing partner that understands this area and stays current with changes in the CPT® Codebook.
August 27, 2018
Physician burnout—including burnout among anesthesia providers—remains a serious public health problem, with studies showing prevalence rates of approximately 50 percent. A recent study in the Journal of Internal Medicine calls for a two-pronged blend of individual and organizational solutions, arguing that “addressing physician burnout should be viewed as a shared responsibility across healthcare systems, organizations, institutions and individual physicians.”
August 20, 2018
When an anesthesia or pain management service that is usually covered by Medicare or another insurer may not be covered in a given circumstance, practitioners must issue an advance beneficiary notice (ABN) describing the services and informing the patient of their potential financial responsibility if they choose to proceed. Failure to appropriately issue an ABN can result in financial liability for the anesthesia or pain management provider.
August 13, 2018
Within five years, more than half of hospitals will have begun using artificial intelligence, including machine learning, to support clinical care and business functions, a survey has found. We offer current information on the emerging technology’s expansion and acceptance in medicine and healthcare, along with insights on potential applications in anesthesia.
August 6, 2018
The proposed rule for the Outpatient Prospective Payment System and the Ambulatory Surgery Center Payment System for 2019 includes proposals to change payment policy for non-opioid postsurgical pain management drugs, expand reimbursement for anesthesia services for some knee surgeries to outpatient settings and remove questions about pain communication from patient surveys.
July 30, 2018
Targeted Probe & Educate, a medical review process introduced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in late 2017, identifies providers with high claim error rates or unusual billing practices for items and services that pose the greatest financial risk to Medicare. We present an overview of the process, which focuses on educating providers as a means of reducing claims denials.
July 23, 2018
The proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for 2019 includes a slight increase in the anesthesia conversion factor as well as some changes to the Quality Payment Program and a significant overhaul of documentation requirements for Evaluation & Management services. CMS is accepting comments on the proposal until September 10, 2018.
July 16, 2018
Patient handoffs are a significant source of errors in intraoperative and perioperative settings. Efforts to reduce these errors often succeed at first, but do not result in behavior change that lasts. A highly structured six-stage patient handoff implementation strategy developed at Midland Memorial Hospital in Texas has reduced handoff errors by half and generated improvements and behavior changes that have been sustained since the strategy’s introduction three years ago.
July 9, 2018
The use of blockchain technology in healthcare could help solve problems of interoperability, privacy, security, transparency and patient access to information, transforming the sector, according to proponents. We explore potential uses for this emerging technology in healthcare and medicine, including anesthesia.
July 2, 2018
Two new studies point to an increased demand for medical specialists, including anesthesiologists, in the coming years and decades. We review reports from the American Association of Medical Colleges and recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins, and offer thoughts on the implications of these findings for anesthesia groups and practitioners.
June 25, 2018
Concurrency is the number of cases an anesthesia provider is involved in at a given moment in time. It applies to all anesthesia cases performed by any type of provider and to all insurance companies. Because the accurate documentation of time is so important in this aspect of billing, we recommend using a single time piece to document anesthesia start and stop times and the consistent use of a 24-hour clock, which has been shown to reduce errors.
June 18, 2018
We review takeaways from the Advanced Institute for Anesthesia Practice Management on recent legal cases of interest to anesthesia and pain practices pertaining to incorrect billing for anesthesia time and violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
June 11, 2018
To clarify one of the more confusing issues in anesthesia, we offer an overview of the documentation requirements for and distinctions between three types of anesthesia postoperative visits: 1) Conditions of Participation; 2) anesthesia postoperative evaluation; and 3) postoperative pain follow-up evaluation.
June 4, 2018
The transition from paper-based anesthesia records to electronic anesthesia records has created new coding and billing challenges for anesthesia groups. Expanded clinical documentation requirements now require coders to access the preoperative note, intraoperative note, operative report and postoperative note. Problems with access to this information can slow the billing process. Therefore, it is essential for your billing and coding team to have access to the full details of a case to ensure accuracy and completeness, code correctly and submit the claim promptly to the appropriate payer.
May 29, 2018
The changes in base unit values for anesthesia services for upper and lower endoscopy procedures for 2018, along with the replacement of two endoscopy codes with five more specific codes, were expected to have a negative financial impact on many anesthesia practices. An analysis of data for a representative sample of clients across the country reveals that the impact of these changes has not been as extensive as originally predicted. We review findings related to volume of cases performed, units billed and payer mix.
May 21, 2018
Legal cases presented at the Advanced Institute for Anesthesia Practice Management offer valuable reminders to anesthesia practitioners and pain specialists regarding the importance of documenting medical necessity for urine drug test screens, including quantitative tests, and compliance with the 60-day overpayments provision of the Affordable Care Act.