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Spring 2013

What Defines Success in Today’s Healthcare Environment?

From the Spring 2013 issue of The Communiqué

It is a privilege to bring you another article from Michael R. Hicks, MD, MBA, this time on Successfully Competing in Anesthesia Services Today. Throughout his career as an anesthesiologist and executive, Dr. Hicks has developed unique insights into the qualities that make for success. As a physician, he writes for his peers honestly and without trepidation. Dr. Hicks’s wisdom is among the most valuable information we have published in the Communiqué. In the current issue, he addresses anew the concept of disruptive innovation in anesthesia practice—but as he notes, “successful companies within the anesthesia space are still focused on implementing and executing sustaining innovations” such as quality and process improvement and “better management practices built upon fiscal and behavioral discipline.” The needed innovations will come from five different strategies identified by Dr. Hicks:

  1. Actively manage the performance of the practice and its members, recognizing that neither the group nor its individual clinicians should be seen as commodities;
  2. Seek ways to reduce your cost to your hospital, and in the process learn about operations management;
  3. Embrace accountability and use your data;
  4. Learn how to communicate. “Every interaction that we have in the perioperative process is at is essence a negotiation,” and
  5. Continue developing your special professional skills.

Keep in mind, Dr. Hicks also counsels, that both direction and proper execution of a strategy are requisites for success. For the time being, given the state of the competition, execution can even trump strategy.

One way to lose to the competition is to fail to recognize it, according to our frequent contributor Mark F. Weiss, Esq. Mr. Weiss invites you to consider Are You Making This Mistake Concerning Competition? “This” mistake would be neglecting the threat from within the group. Other group members sometimes offer not only direct competition, e.g., by breaking off to form their own group, but they may also enable an outside group to take the place of the incumbent. It is important to build protective measures around the partnership/owner/employee relationship.

As anesthesia practice leaders, we have to stay on top of another “big C” compliance. Vicki Mykowiac, Esq. discusses the importance of preventive strategies in her article Anesthesia and Chronic Pain Compliance Risk Areas: Compliance Advice from Benjamin Franklin and Francis Bacon. If we listen, the government tells us clearly how to get into—and how to stay out of—trouble.

With the publication of the federal government’s final regulations on the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification in January, 2013, we entered into a new era of HIPAA rights and responsibilities, which Neda M. Ryan, Esq. reviews in HIPAA Omnibus Rule: What Anesthesiologists Must Do Now.

Christopher Ryan, Esq. focuses on one very important aspect of security—preventing loss of confidential information from cell phones and tablets— in Taking Security on the Road: Steps You Can Take to Secure Your Mobile Devices.

Finally, some less obvious compliance risks come from the new technologies themselves. Joette Derricks, CPC reviews the limitations of electronic health records and the erroneous documentation that they can easily engender in Health Information Management Challenges in the World of EHR.

One recurring topic that we have not touched upon in this issue is payment for anesthesia and pain medicine services. As we go to press, the two percent across-the-board cut to Medicare physician payments mandated by the federal budget sequester is set to begin on April 1, 2013, CMS confirmed in a recent announcement. We know by now that budget deals happen down to the wire, and we hope that our worries about sequestration will be moot by the time you read the Communiqué. Whatever happens, we can assure you that we will continue to keep you up to date.

With best wishes,

Tony Mira
President and CEO