Anesthesia Business Consultants

Weekly eAlerts Covering Regulatory Changes, Compliance Reminders &
Other Changes in the Anesthesia Industry

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Anesthesia Industry and Market News: eAlerts

eAlerts are the latest industry information regarding regulatory changes, helpful compliance reminders, or any number of relevant topics in the fast-paced, ever-evolving specialty of anesthesia.

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eAlerts

  • More Survey Data on Compensation for Anesthesiologists and Other Physicians

    July 27, 2015

    The amount of physician compensation is one of the key issues in every negotiation between anesthesiologists and anesthesiology groups and hospitals or health systems.  What is the fair market value for an anesthesiologist?  And how much do you have to offer to attract him or her?  There is no definitive set of data, just a handful of surveys, some free and some for sale at hefty prices.  Practices that are sufficiently large or that have a long history often realize that their own internal information may be the best available.  In the interest of covering as many bases as possible and providing the greatest amount of data on which interested readers may perform their meta-analyses, we bring to your attention the latest public physician compensation information, released last week by Modern Healthcare in its Physician Compensation: 2015 report.

  • ICD-10 Is Less of a Threat to Your Anesthesia Practice Income – For Now

    July 20, 2015

    On July 6, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the American Medical Association (AMA) jointly announced efforts to help physicians prepare for the October 1st changeover to ICD-10 diagnosis coding.  The AMA and CMS will be offering webinars, on-site training, articles and national conference calls to educate providers and ease the transition throughout the summer.

  • Anesthesiologists as Their Hospitals’ Partners: Understanding the Two-Midnight Rule

    July 13, 2015

    In order to engage fully with their hospital partners, anesthesiologists need to understand some of their institutions’ concerns.  While our readers may not hold the solutions, familiarity with pressures on the hospitals can only help in negotiating the relationships, day-to-day and at contract renewal time.  The Two-Midnight rule is a current hospital hassle of which anesthesiologists should have some awareness.

  • Recording What Anesthesiologists Say in and out of the Operating Room

    July 6, 2015

    “Don’t put anything in an e-mail message or on Facebook that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.”  We have all heard that warning many times.  In the wake of a widely-reported malpractice and defamation judgment awarded by a Virginia jury to a patient whose anesthesiologist made unpleasant statements to colleagues during the patient’s colonoscopy, one wonders whether the warning should be updated to read:  “Don’t say or write anything negative about anyone, anywhere, or you may be sued.”

  • Obamacare Upheld—Patients, Health Systems, Anesthesiologists and Many Others Relieved

    June 29, 2015

    The United States Supreme Court has again upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Court announced its decision in a 6-3 ruling in King v. Burwell on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

  • The Real Anti-Kickback Thorn in Anesthesiologists’ Sides: The Company Model

    June 22, 2015

    Last week’s Alert brought a new Fraud Alert from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to readers’ attention.  The OIG is on the lookout for arrangements in which physicians receive compensation for medical director services that are intended to induce referrals of patients.  We wish the OIG were equally interested in the anti-kickback statute ramifications of the “company model,” in which anesthesiologists are asked to share their clinical revenues and thus compensate other physicians and/or facilities for referrals.

  • A Warning from the OIG to Anesthesiologists, Pain Specialists and Other Physicians Receiving Compensation for Medical Director Services

    June 15, 2015

    The OIG issued a Fraud Alert on compensation for medical directorships on June 9, 2015. To avoid potential liability under the federal anti-kickback statute, anesthesiologists and pain physicians who refer patients to their hospitals, e.g., for pre-operative testing, and who receive medical director compensation should be aware of the OIG’s interest in the subject as well as of the basic principles that apply.

  • Are Quality Measures Improving Anesthesia and Pain Care?

    June 8, 2015

    Are the standard measures of health care quality—structure, process and even outcomes—all that good?

  • Pain Physicians and Anesthesiologists Should Take Care to Report the Correct “Place of Service” on Their Claims

    June 1, 2015

    The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported in May 2015 that Medicare made up to $33.4 million in overpayments for claims on which the place of service (POS) was coded incorrectly during the period from January 2010 through September 2012.  (Incorrect  Place-of-Service Claims Resulted in Potential Medicare Overpayment Costing Millions.)  Reports finding that Medicare has overpaid usually lead to heightened scrutiny of the conduct at issue.  Thus it is important that pain physicians, anesthesiologists and their billing staff understand POS coding.

  • Open Payments System: Updated Public Information on Manufacturers’ Payments to Anesthesiologists and Other Physicians

    May 26, 2015

    On June 30, CMS is going to release information on payments made to physicians during 2014 by pharmaceutical, device and other manufacturers.  This will be an update to the information made public for the first time in September, 2014.  The current database is available at https://openpaymentsdata.cms.gov/.

  • Anesthesiologists’ Role in Improving Post-Acute Care

    May 18, 2015

    Post-acute care services are a major driver of spending, particularly for the Medicare population.  Nationwide, one in seven surgical patients is readmitted within 30 days, stated Michael Schweitzer, MD, MBA, who chairs ASA’s Future Models of Anesthesia Practice task force and who gave a very thought-provoking talk on “The Future of Anesthesia Practice” at the MGMA Anesthesia Conference in Chicago on May 1, 2015.

  • Anesthesiologists’ Compensation and Practice Information from Medscape’s 2015 Survey

    May 11, 2015

    Medscape is one of the very few organizations that surveys physicians on compensation and practice patterns, breaks out the specialty of anesthesiology and publishes the results for free.  The Medscape Anesthesiologist Compensation Report also has one of the larger absolute response rates; in the most recent survey, reported in March 2015, 1179 responses were received from anesthesiologists during the period December 30, 2014 – March 11, 2015.  For those reasons alone, it behooves anesthesiology practices to be familiar with the Medscape data.  The sample is small.  It is probably not representative.  As science, the survey does not pass muster.  But since there is so little information of any better quality available, the Medscape compensation surveys are being used, usually in conjunction with other surveys such as those published (and sold) by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and American Medical Group Association.

  • Enhanced Recovery after Surgery and Anesthesia

    May 4, 2015

    The term “Enhanced Recovery After Surgery” and the acronym ERAS are familiar to most anesthesiologists and to other clinicians.  Anesthesia administrators and non-physician advisors may not have encountered the ERAS concept yet.  Because of burgeoning interest in better evidence-based perioperative care protocols leading to improved patient outcomes in this era of value-based payment, administrators and practice management staff should acquire a basic understanding of the ERAS concept.

  • The Anesthesia Quality Institute QCDR—Bigger and Better All the Time

    April 27, 2015

    The Anesthesia Quality Institute’s Qualified Data Clinical Registry (AQI QCDR) became even more valuable with the recent addition of 16 new measures bringing the total number of measures adopted by the AQI for use in its QCDR to 27.  With the nine official Medicare Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) measures that can also be reported to the QCDR, the combined total of 36 measures will give most anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants ample opportunity to satisfy the PQRS requirements for 2015.  The array of available measures should also provide practices with sound choices for their own quality measurement and improvement programs.

  • The Skills Anesthesiologists Need to Be Effective Executives

    April 20, 2015

    Leadership has never been more important in anesthesiology than it is today.  As the specialty demands and takes ownership of increasing levels of responsibility in healthcare reform, the quality of leadership becomes one the fundamental factors that determine success.  Developing the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH), the most exciting organizational concept to emerge within anesthesiology this century, requires outstanding leaders.  So does maintaining the highest quality of patient care in each anesthesiology department or practice.

  • Will the Stage 3 Meaningful Use Requirements Be an Improvement for Anesthesiologists and Pain Physicians?

    April 13, 2015

    Let us begin with the basic answer to the question in the title of this Alert:  anesthesiologists continue to benefit from a specialty-based exemption from the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program’s “meaningful use” (MU) requirements, so only those who are have chosen to earn the incentive will be affected directly by the new Stage 3 rules.  Pain physicians may be affected, unless their practice meets the EHR program definition of “hospital-based” or they have been granted a hardship exception (see Alert dated February 16, 2015).

  • Tax Identity Fraud: Another Threat to Anesthesiologists’ Finances

    April 6, 2015

    Cyber attacks on health databases are occurring so frequently that they are only newsworthy when they affect millions of records, as happened with the recently-reported massive Anthem  (about 80 million individuals) and Premera Blue Cross (more than 11 million) data breaches.  Last year, in fact, was characterized as the “year of the data breach” by some, according to Becker’s Hospital Review, which reports that: “Across industries, the healthcare sector experienced the highest percentage of breaches in 2014, according to Identity Theft Resource.  Of the 761 data breaches reported last year, 322 of them came from the healthcare industry.”

  • Getting What You Ask For: Are Anesthesiologists and Other Physicians About to See Repeal of the SGR, Finally?

    March 30, 2015

    Once more, the law preventing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula from wreaking havoc on Medicare payments to physicians is about to expire. Payments are scheduled to decrease by 21.2 percent on April 1.

  • Continuing Payer Confusion over Anesthesia for Screening Colonoscopies

    March 23, 2015

    The New York Attorney General announced, on March 11, 2015, that his office had entered into a settlement agreement with EmblemHealth, Inc., requiring the health plan to cover anesthesiology services provided in connection with an in-network preventive colonoscopy, without any cost-sharing by the patient.  The agreement includes a $25,000 penalty and applies not just prospectively but also requires Emblem to send nearly $400,000 of reimbursements to 255 patients who were inappropriately charged co-payments

  • Inadequate Payments to Anesthesiologists are Bad, or The Independent Payment Advisory Board

    March 16, 2015

    One especially alarming artifact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).  The IPAB is a 15-member panel charged with making proposals to “reduce cost growth” and “improve quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.”  It is required to recommend cost-saving initiatives in any year in which per capita spending exceeds a threshold determined by the government. In addition, the Commission is authorized to make recommendations to “constrain the rate of growth in the private sector.”

  • The Supreme Court’s Obamacare Decision and its Implications for Anesthesiologists

    March 9, 2015

    Health policy dominated the news media last week, with the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in King v. Burwell, the case with the potential to eviscerate Obamacare, on Wednesday March 4.  Demonstrators crowded the steps in front of the Court during the hearing; most urged that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be left intact.