Follow This Best Practice to Better Align Anesthesiologists With Your ASC

Sandy Berreth, administrator of Brainerd Lakes Surgery Center in Baxter, Minn., says the challenge of aligning anesthesiologists with the financial interests of an ASC can be overcome by giving the anesthesiologists a financial investment in the center.

"In my experience, anesthesia is a separate entity if they're not financially invested," she says. "Their responsibility is onto themselves, they don't sit on the governing board, and they don't have a financial interest." Because the anesthesiologists can bill for their services at the ASC whether or not they are involved in the financial success of the center, they may not be as heavily involved in cost-cutting and efficiency goals as you would like.

"I think they sometimes think, 'It doesn't matter if I'm out of here at 5 p.m. or 3 p.m. or 1 p.m. I'm going to do my job and leave,'" she says. "They don't necessarily have that incentive to help out because they're going to bill for their services regardless."

Her advice: Get your anesthesiologists financially involved by making them a part of the governing body of the center. This could mean making an anesthesiologist a medical director or a board member and letting them vote on process changes. "The ability to vote on the decisions that matter to them can make your anesthesiologists more engaged in the processes at your center," she says.

For Ms. Berreth, whose physicians and staff are financially motivated by part-ownership and bonuses, respectively, the anesthesia group often seems oddly distant from the center's goals and interests. "Your surgery center is only as good as the people and processes you have in the surgery center," she says. "You want your anesthesiologists financially invested [by purchasing shares or sitting on the board] instead of feeling like outsiders."

Learn more about Brainerd Lakes Surgery Center.

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