January and February are such optimistic months; as the calendar flips into the new year, all eyes are on the future. Resolutions are made. Trends are analyzed. Predictions are cast.

Yet we all know how fast trends come and go; how easily resolutions are broken. That’s why, even though it’s interesting to explore the up-and-coming, it’s essential that we not lose sight of the fundamentals. Some things — like delivering value — will always be required for success.

For example: As 2018 rolls on, hospitals and other healthcare organizations will continue to take an increasingly hard look at the value that anesthesia practices bring to the table. Those that maintain a steady focus on proving their value are the ones most likely to thrive.

So, with an eye firmly on the fundamentals, here are four timeless “value-adds” that should always be front-and-center for your anesthesia practice:

1.    Add value to your anesthesia group

Just as no man is an island, no anesthesia practice operates in isolation. Don’t forget to strengthen your own practice and anesthesia group, even as you consider ways to bring value to patients, providers and hospitals.

Cultivating more collaboration and alignment among group leadership is often a good place to start. Practices should develop growth strategies as a leadership team, and be proactive about creating a leadership succession plan. You might also want to explore how a physician incentive plan can impact performance and provide added value to members.

Core activities aimed at improving the group’s revenue cycle should be another key area of focus. In addition to sharpening contract negotiation skills to boost the bottom line, these activities can include:

  • educating the group on quality reporting initiatives , and ensuring quality reporting takes place.
  • emphasizing documentation improvement efforts to support more accurate coding.
  • staying current and compliant with ever-evolving coding and billing regulations.

2.      Add value for contracted hospitals and facilities

In addition to improving care quality, think “business” when it comes to the benefits your anesthesia practice can offer hospitals and other contracted facilities. The ability to optimize the business and reap better financial outcomes remains a crucial driver for these organizations.

One approach that might offer attractive cost savings and revenue returns is the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) model of care advocated by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA). PSH calls for anesthesiologists to lead multidisciplinary care teams as they guide patients through a more unified, holistic surgical experience — from the decision for surgery to post-discharge care. Consequently, it can help lower lengths of stay (LOS), drive fewer surgery cancellations and delays, and reduce readmissions from complications.

Such improvements might make it advantageous for the hospital to participate in bundled payment programs and other value-based reimbursement initiatives. Even without PSH or bundled payment programs, your practice can still be engaged in OR management.

The anesthesia data captured to code and bill for each case is nothing short of pure gold when it comes to helping your contracted facilities understand their OR utilization. And you own this data, even if it’s collected by a third-part billing company! Someone with strong analytics skills who understands the metrics and can translate them into relevant insights can help your practice deliver incredible value to the hospital or health system.

3.    Add value for surgeons and other providers

Surgeons (and hospitals) hate cancellations. The good news is that earlier collaboration between surgeons and anesthesia teams can drive fewer cancellations through more efficient OR management. By getting involved at the pre-surgery stage, anesthesiologists can help determine potential risk and ensure the right tests are ordered — and as a result make it more likely the patient will be ready to proceed with surgery.

In the end, reducing the cost of unnecessary tests and cutting down on surgery cancellations is a win for the hospital, surgeon and patient. If you think about it, anesthesia can always add value to providers through efforts to decrease patient risk and increase patient satisfaction. Staying current with Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation initiatives, for example, is one way to enable surgeons to achieve those objectives.

4.    Add value for your patients

You’re familiar with the buzzwords: care coordination; patient-centered care; patient experience. However, you and your hospital partners may not have considered all the ways that anesthesiologists are uniquely positioned to deliver on these patient-focused concepts.

Anesthesiologists work with patients of all ages and all clinical conditions, for example. Their expertise starts with the pre-operative evaluation, moves into intra-operative management, then extends to post-operative care and pain management. In short, anesthesiologists bring a distinct, big-picture perspective to patients throughout the entire care experience. (That’s one reason why the ASA stands firmly behind the complete perioperative care process.)

Anesthesia practices might want to consider sharing good patient satisfaction survey results with their hospitals. These offer a quantifiable way to prove your outcomes and performance to the facility, and at the same time, help you identify opportunities for continual improvement.

Value never goes out of style

Value is generally defined as quality ÷ cost. Anything you do to drive quality of care up or cost down for patients, providers, or hospitals has the potential to become a “value-add” that spotlights the benefits of a strategic partnership with your anesthesia practice. So, even as you look to the future, don’t get too distracted by trends, fads, and New Year’s-style resolutions. Success requires a steady, strategic approach to delivering fundamental value.

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