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Anesthesia Leadership in the Preoperative Clinic

Anesthesia practices looking to optimize their value proposition at their respective facilities have sought a greater role in the preoperative preparation of their patients. The emphasis on efficiency and the continuity of care in recently suggested models of healthcare reimbursement, including Accountable Care Organizations, have drawn renewed attention to opportunities within the preoperative clinic. The economic reality is that providers and facilities are not getting paid to provide those services under current reimbursement rules. Preoperative clinics can provide benefits in quality of care and cost reduction, in addition to the significance of improving patient and surgeon satisfaction. Anesthesia practices are in a unique position to develop the preoperative clinic into a valuable resource.The expenses of a poorly performed preoperative assessment are borne by both the surgical department and anesthesia provider (as well as by the patient) in the form of poor utilization. Patient satisfaction and outcomes are affected by delays and...
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The Institute For Safety in Office-Based Surgery (ISOBS)

In recent years, the economic pressures of medicine have incited a paradigm shift in health care delivery, such that surgical procedures are moving from the hospital to the office-based setting. Often called the “wild west of health care,” office- based procedures continue to increase at a rapid pace, with an estimated more than 10 million procedures performed in 2010. A growing body of literature calls for greater leadership in the field of office-based surgery, and for leaders who are educated in all facets of quality improvement. In addition, a recent study found that a comprehensive checklist used in an interdisciplinary, team-based setting resulted in a reduction in surgical complications as well as cost savings.Development of such a checklist and education of practitioners, patients, and office personnel is the mission of the Institute for Safety in Office-Based Surgery. An independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, ISOBS has developed a safety checklist for use in...
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Putting Your Anesthesiology Practice on Wheels

Written by: Shawn Michael DeRemer, MD and Gregg M. White, CRNA, MSAnesthesia Associates Northwest, LLC (AANW), Portland, ORHealth care delivery has gradually shifted from in-hospital to outpatient settings, most recently to physicians’ offices. In fact, in 2009 the number of office-based procedures in the United States numbered 12 million. Nevertheless, though outpatient surgery may be more convenient and financially beneficial for both doctors and patients, many physicians are not taking advantage of the full realm of possible procedures that could be offered in an office setting.In 2010, we decided to expand our own anesthesia management and staffing services business by helping physicians expand their practices. Our idea was to bring the surgical suite to physicians’ offices via a fully equipped van that would deliver all necessary resources — and also foster a “culture of safety.”WHAT WE NEEDEDWe went to task outfitting a slick- looking van with everything a physician might need...
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More Pressure on Anesthesiology Groups to Grow

Have you and your group been thinking about how to grow your practice? The trend toward anesthesia practice consolidation continues its momentum. Not only do groups seek more and more opportunities to merge, to acquire other groups and to join larger organizations; they are an increasingly attractive acquisition target.Mark Weiss, Esq.’s article “The Company Model of Anesthesia Services: Will Less Money Lead to Jail Time?” is an excellent review of the development of the troublesome “company model” as well an explanation of the associated compliance issues that you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand.For a different perspective, consider AAA Executive Committee member Franc Galinanes’s article “Anesthesia: The Increasing Consolidation of Our Industry.” As a Senior Director for North American Partners in Anesthesia, Mr. Galinanes is in a good position to discuss the advantages of the three major types of consolidation: practice mergers, joining a larger organization and sale to...
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Anesthesiologists Targeted in CMS’ Review of Existing Rules

On August 22, 2011, as a result of a directive from President Obama, the US Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued its Plan for Retrospective Review of Existing Rules (“Plan”). The Plan includes a review from all HHS operating and staff divisions (e.g., the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”)) that establish, administer and/or enforce regulation. HHS’ Plan aims to review “existing significant regulations to identify those rules that can be eliminated as obsolete, unnecessary, burdensome, or counterproductive or that can be modified to be more effective, efficient, flexible, and streamlined.” While, on its face, a review of unnecessary regulations appears to be beneficial, looking below the surface reveals that the review may create fundamental changes in medical and anesthesia practice. CMS is contemplating reviewing the conditions of participation (“CoPs”) for anesthesia services (42 CFR 482.52) to eliminate the certified registered nurse anesthetist (“CRNA”) supervision requirement, which could...
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CMS Finally Speaks: The Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Proposed Regulations and What They Mean for Anesthesiologists

Written by: Neda Mirafzali, Esq Kathryn Hickner-Cruz, EsqThe Health Law Partners, P.C., Southfield, MISince the passage of the Affordable Care Act1 and the establishment of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (the “Shared Savings Program”), ACOs have become the new hot topic.Section 3022 of the Affordable Care Act provides that Medicare shall establish the Shared Savings Program and that healthcare providers and suppliers will participate in the Shared Savings Program through ACOs. According to CMS, “ACOs create incentives for healthcare providers to work together to treat an individual patient across care settings – including doctor’s offices, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. The Shared Savings Program will reward ACOs that lower growth in healthcare costs while meeting performance standards on quality of care and putting patients first.”2 If an ACO saves money by providing patients with efficient care, then the ACOs can share in a percentage of the savings with Medicare. However, should an ACO fail...
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The Company Model of Anesthesia Services: Will Less Money Lead to Jail Time?

??When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton responded, “Because that’s where the money is.”Ambulatory surgery center (“ASC”) owners, often surgeons, seek to obtain a share of anesthesia fees for the same reason. But instead of a gun, many are turning to a new model of money extraction, the so-called “company model.”The abrupt bank robber approach to demanding a kickback is clearly illegal: “Bob, if you want to provide anesthesia at Greenacres ASC, you’ve got to pay us thirty cents on the referred dollar”.Although there are far more ASC owners willing to take the bank robber approach than the industry likely will admit, some ASCs are choosing a slightly softer approach — forcing the anesthesiologists working independently at the ASC to instead work for an ASC affiliated entity that distributes a share of the anesthesia fees back to the ASC owners.“Bob, if you want to provide anesthesia at Greenacres ASC, you’ve...
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Getting Paid for Anesthesia: Mastering the Challenges of Viability

Some of us are old enough to remember the days when anesthesia prtoviders got paid more or less based on what they decided to charge. It used to be that a favorable mix of patient insurance coverage (payor mix) and reasonably busy operating rooms was sufficient to ensure the financial viability of an anesthesia practice. There was a time when anesthesiologists talked about things like group formation, hospital contracts and managed care negotiations in the abstract as interesting options. Conventional wisdom held that a few persistent and disciplined secretaries would be sufficient to provide for the business requirements of the typical practice. Sadly those days of entrepreneurial opportunity have given way to a whole new set of practice management challenges. Survival and success now have much less to do with the favorability of the payor mix or even with the clinical qualifications of the providers; today’s practices must constantly monitor  and...
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Anesthesia: The Increasing Consolidation of our Industry

While the business of health care continues to evolve, there is perhaps no part of it changing faster than anesthesia. Numerous factors are quickly shifting the market towards an even more competitive and demanding landscape. The days of anesthesia groups simply providing clinical coverage in a hospital’s operating rooms are, for better or for worse, drawing to a close.As the expectations of hospitals for the types and levels of services to be provided by anesthesia are increasing, anesthesiologists now find themselves performing cases in non-traditional anesthetizing locations such as GI Suites, ECT and Electrophysiology. In addition, many anesthesiologists are expected to serve in roles not always seen as traditional for anesthesia, such as holding the broad responsibility for Peri-Operative Services, Pre-Surgical Testing processes, serving as leaders of hospital committees, etc.A continued shift in payor mix, to government payors that have long undervalued anesthesia services, has forced an increasing number of anesthesia...
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