RESULTS OF SURVEY REGARDING A NETWORK OF ANESTHESIA PRACTICES
December 12, 2011
Anesthesia Business Consultants
December 12, 2011
ABC recently conducted a survey of clients and others to assess the anesthesiology community’s level of interest in a network of independent practices participating in joint quality improvement and cost-effectiveness initiatives. The 130 responses collected show considerable interest in such a network. Of the 99 individuals who answered the fundamental question “Please indicate your level of interest in joining a network of anesthesia practices organized to integrate clinical quality improvement endeavors, e.g. by pooling quality/performance data,” 36 were “extremely interested,” 34 were at least “interested” and only 14 were not interested. Figure 1 gives the breakdown of responses to this question by clients (lower section of column) and non-clients.
It seems safe to say that anesthesiologists have understood the value of measuring quality (or at least the need to measure quality) in order to bring clinical performance to an even higher level. Moreover, the benefits of working on quality and cost-effectiveness endeavors jointly and not group by group are also evident to the great majority of physicians who completed our survey. This information is extremely important to ABC and to other organizations seeking ways to help anesthesia practices demonstrate their value proposition.
The survey results also show that anesthesiologists are more than willing to do the work themselves to understand and enhance value. Nearly two-thirds of 98 persons responding to a follow-up question regarding a potential quality network, equally divided between clients and nonclients, indicated that they would be willing to serve on a volunteer physician advisory board “that would guide the network in developing quality measures, performance assessment tools and related activities.” Of those individuals at least “maybe” willing to volunteer for such a board, seventy percent would participate in a monthly conference call.
One way in which independent anesthesia groups are already improving their operating efficiency through cooperation is group purchasing. Overall, 21.2 percent of survey respondents currently participate in a group purchasing programs. Fifty percent characterize themselves as “extremely interested” or “interested” in a new group purchasing program for anesthesia practice services, and an additional 39.4 percent are “willing to learn more.” The most popular services for a group purchasing program are shown in Figure 2 below.
Of some interest, but less than either an integrated quality improvement or group purchasing program, is clinician cross-coverage or a locums service within the proposed network of practices. While 21.9 percent of clients are “extremely interested” and 31.5% are “interested,” only 24 percent of responding nonclients are in either or those categories, and 56 percent of nonclients are “not very” or “definitely not” interested in locums services. The reason for the difference may lie in the more complex logistics of credentialing and otherwise managing a pool of anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants who might be available for cross-coverage who do not collect and maintain data through any common platform or system.
The practices responding to the survey employ a total of 1,746 anesthesiologists and 1,052 nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologist assistants. On average, the groups include 18.09 anesthesiologists and 13.41 CRNAs/AAs. They cover an average of 1.77 hospitals, 2.23 ambulatory surgical centers and 16.6 anesthetizing locations.
The absolute demographic values are not large enough to be considered representative of the professions, but they are nevertheless of interest for planning purposes. Individuals from more than 100 anesthesia groups, the majority of whom identify themselves as decision-makers, express a moderate to high level of interest in collaborating across practices to improve quality, cost-effectiveness and operating efficiency.
With best wishes,
President and CEO