5 Elements of a Great ASC Relationship With Anesthesia Groups

Vicki Edelman, RN, BSN, administrator for Blue Bell (Pa). Surgery Center, discusses five reasons why the ASC has a successful relationship with its new anesthesia group.

1. Posses an ASC mentality. When Blue Bell was looking for a new anesthesia group, it interviewed with the clinical coordinator of several groups, and made it a priority to choose one that had ASC anesthesiologists and an ASC mentality.

"We didn't want one that had the hospital mentality because that doesn't aid in efficiency and cost containment," Ms. Edelman says. "If they're going to sedate your patients too much, when the patients get out of surgery, they're going to be [in the PACU for a long time] and that costs you money."

2. No unnecessary testing.
Before selecting the group, the ASC checked the pre-admission testing guidelines of the groups it was considering. This step was important to catch potential costly and unnecessary processes, indicative of a poor understanding of surgery centers.

"Make sure they're not going to costing you money by asking for too many pre-admission tests, particularly if you have a pre-admission testing lab in your facility," such as the one in Blue Bell, says Ms. Edelman. "If the anesthesiologist requests a lot of pre-admission tests that are seemingly more hospital-oriented for bigger procedures, that's costing you because you have an employee dedicated to running EKGs, to getting lab work, to getting the results for those things and that's all time and money."

3. Designated contact person. Ms. Edelman says Blue Bell's current anesthesia group has a designated director of anesthesia, and that individual serves as the point person for the coordination of anesthesia services at the ASC. This person helps ensure efficiency and consistency for the ASC's anesthesia, and is a critical reason why the partnership between Blue Bell and the group is a success.

"That director is responsible for his group and making sure everybody that's working here is doing things the same exact way," she says. "I've worked with a different group that sent a provider who had a very different approach [than the other providers in the same group] and it was a whole different ball of wax. That's inefficient and makes people scramble."

4. More than just anesthesia providers. Anesthesiologists have the primary responsibility of providing appropriate, excellent anesthesia that allows for a quick turnover, but a good group will not shy away from assisting with other aspects of the ASC's operations.

"They have to be team players," says Ms. Edelman. "They have to realize that if we need them to push a stretcher, give us a hand at moving a patient — we're all in this together. If they function like a team with us, it just makes everybody feel like we're all here for the same reasons and the right reasons."

5. Mutual respect is critical.
For your ASC to achieve a successful partnership with its anesthesia group, both providers need to stay sensitive to each other's needs. For example, if you want to make OR scheduling changes that could impact the number of anesthesia providers required at your facility, let the anesthesia group know as soon as possible and give it an opportunity to shift personnel around.

"Say my schedule has two rooms running the next day but there's only two cases in one room and five in another — it's not necessary to run both rooms," says Ms. Edelman. "That's not being fair to the anesthesia group to bring an anesthesiologist or an anesthetist in for two cases and then send them out of there. You have to be willing to negotiate with each other and compromise on your OR compression and schedule because they're going to walk away from you if they're losing money by having an extra provider here for two cases when that provider could have gone elsewhere. You really have to both be respectful of each other in terms of a smart business model."

Learn more about Blue Bell Surgery Center.

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