Anesthesia Business Consultants

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

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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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  • What Is Agile and What Can It Do for Anesthesia?

    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.

  • Current Data on Anesthesiologist Compensation

    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.

  • Acute Pain Management: The CPT Coding Challenge for Anesthesia

    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.

  • Burnout in Anesthesia: Targeting Causes, Solutions and Prevention

    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.”

  • Anesthesia and Pain Clinicians: Know When—and When Not—to Issue an Advance Notice of Noncoverage

    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.

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Anesthesia: Are We There Yet?

    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.

  • CMS’s 2019 Anesthesia-Related Payment Proposals for Outpatient and Ambulatory Services

    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.


  • Will Anesthesia Providers be Targeted in CMS’s ‘Probe and Educate’ Audits?

    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.


  • CMS’s 2019 Proposed Payment Rule: Highlights for Anesthesia and Pain Management Providers

    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.


  • Adding Focus and Structure to Anesthesia Patient Handoffs

    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.


  • Blockchain Technology in Anesthesia: Disruptor or Fad?

    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.


  • Anesthesiologist Supply and Demand: Trends Within the Specialty

    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.


  • Concurrency Defined: A Reminder for Anesthesia Providers

    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.


  • Legal Cases Underscore Compliance Lessons for Anesthesia and Pain Groups: Part 3

    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.


  • A Refresher on Documentation of Anesthesia Postoperative Evaluations

    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.


  • Does Your Anesthesia Billing Partner Have Access to the Details of a Case?

    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.


  • How Are Anesthesia Practitioners Faring With the New GI Codes?


    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.

  • Legal Cases Underscore Compliance Lessons for Anesthesia and Pain Groups: Part 2

    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.

  • Legal Cases Underscore Compliance Lessons for Anesthesia and Pain Groups

    May 14, 2018

    Anesthesia and pain practices should stay abreast of risk areas not only nationally, but also locally, through their branch office of the U.S. Department of Justice, in order to help ensure compliance and protect their groups.  We highlight two cases presented at the Advanced Institute for Anesthesia Practice Management by attorney Vicki Myckowiak, Esq., and will explore additional cases from her presentation in future eAlerts.

  • Anesthesia Payment for the Perioperative Surgical Home

    May 7, 2018

    A growing body of evidence shows that implementing a perioperative surgical home (PSH) can yield important quality improvements, operational efficiencies and cost savings for hospitals, including reductions in length of stay and readmissions.  However, many anesthesia groups have questions regarding the payment aspects of this model.  One option is the creation of a co-management agreement between the physicians and the hospital in which physicians receive both fixed and variable portions of compensation.  We offer an overview of a presentation on the monetization of the PSH at the recent Advanced Institute for Anesthesia Practice Management.

  • Anesthesia Community Speaks Out Against California Healthcare Bill

    April 30, 2018

    The California Health Care Price Relief Act (AB 3087) proposes the creation of an appointed Commission that would “control in-state health care costs and set the amounts accepted as payment by health plans, hospitals, physicians, physician groups, and other health care providers.”  We offer an overview of the bill as a heads up to anesthesia providers that the measure could set a precedent if it became law.