Category

Uncategorized

The Benefits of Joining a Professional Society

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Professional societies provide a host of benefits for anesthesiologists and other healthcare professionals. Societies give healthcare professionals a significant competitive advantage over their peers by providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. One of the most notable perks of joining a professional society is the opportunity for networking with other doctors, nurses, and healthcare managers. When an anesthesiologist partakes as an active member of an extensive society network, they are able to collaborate and expand their knowledge by interacting with other like-minded and innovative individuals. Immersion into the culture of a professional society keeps members up to date with the latest discoveries and opportunities in their field, including the latest in healthcare management and anesthesia services.

Another benefit of joining a professional society is the opportunity for continued education and mentoring. Professionals can stay informed about new breakthroughs by accessing the society’s seminars, journals, studies, and continued medical education courses.1 Many professional societies offer certification courses to their members, allowing them to expand their educational credentials. Mentoring services are also an invaluable resource to healthcare providers. Mentors can provide support for developing professionals by focusing on any areas that may be lacking. Both parties in a mentoring relationship serve to benefit as many find mentoring to be a rewarding experience that renews their enthusiasm for the medical field and their desire to help others. The intrinsic value of being invested in one’s profession leads to unparalleled opportunities for growth. By showing such dedication to the field, healthcare professionals demonstrate that medicine is not only a job, but a lifestyle. When professionals exude a strong enthusiasm and commitment to excellent healthcare, they create a magnet for colleagues and patients who will come to view them as an industry leader. As a result, healthcare practitioners can feel more satisfied and confident in their role, allowing them to approach their practice with a more positive energy.benefits

Lastly, professional societies provide various forms of monetary support. These supports may include discounts to certification programs and conferences, access to scholarships and grants; and may sometimes even include group rates on medical insurance.2 Professional societies also give monetary backing to support legislation that may benefit their members. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) advocates for “fair payment and lessened administrative burden by leading discussions about proposed and final rules from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to ensure that the interests of ASA members and their patients are represented,” allowing members an opportunity to make their voices heard.3 Professional Societies also protect their members by defending them against regulation changes and company acquisitions that may be costly to individual healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists. The American Medical Association (AMA) reported in 2017 that “blocking the proposed Anthem-Cigna merger alone saved physicians at least $500 million in payments annually.”4

Joining a professional society has many advantages. These advantages include opportunities for networking, furthering education, renewing passion for the practice, receiving and giving individualized mentorship, and monetary and legal support. The many benefits afforded to a healthcare professional by joining a professional society are more than likely to outweigh the cost of membership, making it an overall worthwhile investment.

References:

  1. eCareers, Health. “4 Benefits of Joining Your Professional Healthcare Association.” Health ECareers, 9 Feb. 2018, www.healthecareers.com/article/career/the-benefits-of-joining-your-professional-healthcare-association.
  2. “6 Ways Professional Healthcare Associations Advance Your Career.” Top Personality Traits for Physical Therapists, www.jobs.net/Article/CB-4-Talent-Network-Healthcare-6-Ways-Professional-Healthcare-Associations-Advance-Your-Career.
  3. “​Member Benefit” American Society of Anesthesiologists, asahq.org/member-center/member-benefit.
  4. “2017 AMA Annual Report.” American Medical Association, 2017, www.ama-assn.org/sites/default/files/media-browser/2017-ama-annual-report.pdf

The Anesthesiologist’s Role in Shaping Future Practices

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Anesthesiologists serve as the cornerstone of the perioperative arena. The current role of the anesthesiologist goes beyond that of anesthetic delivery; anesthesiologists must also have expertise in pre-operative planning, pain management, and patient population analyses in order to execute their functions effectively. Like other physicians and healthcare providers (HCPs), anesthesiologists are subject to healthcare policies, specifically with regards to reimbursement mechanisms and utilization. As the United States healthcare system broadens its scope of practice, anesthesiologists should heed developments in care models, utilization, and payment mechanisms, each of which have the ability to significantly impact the future role of the anesthesiologist.

We have written previously on collaborative care delivery. Most notably, we examined the perioperative surgical home (PSH), which is a care delivery model that moves from a disease-centered approach to care to a patient-centered approach to care. In the PSH model, anesthesiologists comprise the care team for a patient alongside primary care physicians, nurses, surgeons, and social workers.1 In this way, the treatment plan is arrived at collaboratively, allowing for a decision to be made that is optimal for the patient. The PSH model has faced polarizing support and criticism from physician leaders as it becomes increasingly recognized in the medical literature. In order to measure anesthesiologist attitudes, researchers conducted a longitudinal, quantitative, survey-driven study to gauge provider attitudes toward changes in care delivery, including PSH.2 Multiple iterations of the survey were administered over two years in order to capture several data points. Study participants (n=6000) were all board certified anesthesiologists and active members of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. At the end of  two years, the researchers concluded that knowledge of the PSH model had increased among all participants, notably across a range of geographies and care center modalities. Moreover, anesthesiologists were more likely to express support for the implementation of a multidisciplinary approach to PSH, as opposed to a strictly physician or medical care-based team. These findings suggest a potential opportunity for anesthesiologists to serve as leaders in the PSH movement, especially given the systems approach to medicine that many anesthesiologists employ in their practices already. Therefore, as care centers begin to transition to PSH care delivery models, anesthesiologists may find value in leading the movement.

perioperativeIn addition to changes in care delivery models, anesthesiologists will encounter changes to payment mechanisms that may influence their future practicing regimens. While the majority of healthcare financing in the United States is currently fee-for-service (FFS), changes in workforce allocation, such as adoption of the PSH, may also render a difference in billing and healthcare financing.3 Bundled payments are one potential payment mechanism that may find traction in the United States healthcare system in the coming years. Since anesthesiologists are often employed in shift work, bundled payments may not seem like the most compatible model at first; however, a salaried workforce may be better equipped to combat the complicated world of co-payments, deductibles, and holistic payments. Hence, until healthcare policies can provide a clearer picture of how healthcare is financed in the United States, anesthesiologists should stay informed on how payment mechanisms can impact their own remuneration.

As a result of shifts toward collaborative care and per-patient compensation models, the role of anesthesiologists continues to move away from isolated practices towards integrating developments in the field. Healthcare in the United States is changing rapidly and anesthesiologists are well-equipped with the background and skills to serve at the helm.

References:

  1. Kain ZN et al. “The Perioperative Surgical Home as a Future Perioperative Practice Model.” Anesthesia & Analgesia. 2014 May. 118(5):1126–1130,
  2. Raphael DR et al. “Two-Year Follow-up Survey: Views of US Anesthesiologists About Health Care Costs and Future Practice Roles.” Anesthesia & Analgesia. 2018 Feb;126(2):611-614.
  3. Scott BC and Eminger TL. “Bundled Payments: Value-Based Care Implications for Providers, Payers, and Patients.” American Health and Drug Benefits. 2016 Dec. 9(9): 493-496

The Importance of the Surgeon-Anesthesiologist Relationship for Patient Safety

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Today, medical care involves more than just one doctor: it involves a synergized team of doctors who come together to treat one patient. In order to achieve the highest quality patient care, there must be a significant amount of teamwork in the operating room. While much literature is focused on the relationship between an anesthesiologist and a patient, it is also imperative to examine the relationship between a surgeon and an anesthesiologist. Studies show that effective communication between surgeons and anesthesiologists can significantly improve patient outcomes and mitigate patient safety risks, leading to healthier relationships for all parties involved. An article published in Current Opinion in Anesthesiology names communication as the “most important tool in solving professional, legal and ethical questions.”[1] All parties who play a role in patient care must be able to interact in a responsible and professional manner that allows them to reach a consensus of actions based on their diverse medical expertise and experience. Collaboration can serve as a safeguard against dangerous, ethically ambiguous decisions made by individuals by creating an environment where courses of action must be discussed and agreed upon before they are taken. Active listening and clear expression of opinion are aspects of good communication. These are skills that must be practiced, as they are entirely different from the technical skills needed to treat patient illness and injury.communication

Strong relationships between surgeons and anesthesiologists extend beyond simple professional courtesy; quality relationships between doctors are essential to the health and safety of the patient. Dysfunctional relationships between care providers can lead to errors that can jeopardize the wellness of the patient. A paper published in The American Journal of Surgery found that communication failure among health care providers was a causal factor in 82% of adverse event or close-call reports.[2] Another study conducted by Sutcliffe et al. confirmed this finding, showing that 91% of reported errors could be attributed to a lack of proper communication.[3] It is vital for hospitals to commit to decreasing the prevalence of mistakes that lead to bad patient outcomes and low satisfaction. Preventing medical errors is among the highest priorities at every medical facility, especially when considering the importance of good operational outcomes as well as the ethics of providing exemplary care. Lowering the frequency of miscommunication can be achieved with the help of training programs.

Strengthening relationships between healthcare providers leads to a slew of benefits, the most important of these being increased patient safety. When surgeons and anesthesiologists have effectual relationships, we can expect faster turnaround at the health facility in addition to improved patient satisfaction. A recent study conducted by the University of Colorado Medical Center analyzed the impact of provider communication strategy on patient safety and found that “interventions and implementation methods become instrumental in preventing negative patient outcomes.”[4] Initiating a communication strategy for use by all health care team members at the Denver Health Medical Center led to decreased time needed for communication about patient concerns and increased patient issue resolution. When care is administered quickly and easily due to good, strong relationships, medical professionals can find more happiness and fulfillment in their work. This dynamic ultimately results in safer treatments and the increased likelihood that patients live longer, healthier lives.

References:

Booij, Leo HDJ, and Evert van Leeuwen. “Teamwork and the legal and ethical responsibility of the anaesthetist.” Current Opinion in Anesthesiology2 (2008): 178-182.

Awad, Samir S., et al. “Bridging the communication gap in the operating room with medical team training.” The American Journal of Surgery5 (2005): 770-774.

Sutcliffe KM, Lewtorz E, Rosenthal MM, et al. Communication failures: an insidious contributor to medical mishaps. Acad Med 2004;79:186–94.

Dingley, Catherine, et al. “Improving patient safety through provider communication strategy enhancements.” (2008).

Trends in Randomized Controlled Trials in Anesthesia

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

The primary objective of an anesthesiologist is to ensure that the patient undergoes a safe, effective procedure with an optimized post-operative recovery time. In order to effectively deliver on this, it is essential for anesthesia providers to be cognizant of changes in the field, whether that be in the form of new iterations of delivery methods or novel medications used in the operating room (OR). Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are utilized to compare the efficacy of medical technologies and to assess their practical applications in the clinical setting. In the field of anesthesia management, administrators and physicians alike should remain informed about relevant research developments.

At the Joint World Congress on Regional Anesthesia held in April 2018, a team of anesthesiologist-researchers presented an analysis of the field’s scientific literature spanning over a century[1]. Utilizing a series of standardized metrics, the research team sought to measure bias, reliability, and access in anesthesiology-related RCT literature over time. They found that the summarized risk of bias decreased over time while the sample size of patients included in these trials effectively remained the same. These findings suggest that while the strategic underpinnings of anesthesia trials are becoming quantitatively less biased, the access to patient participants has remained the same despite the recent increase in clinical trials conducted globally[2]. This is an important consideration for healthcare management, particularly those in the service delivery lines as they consider introducing novel medications and delivery mechanisms to the existing hospital framework. Healthcare administrators should further explore the implications of research on new technologies and assess whether existing RCTs offer strong enough support for adopting these technologies in clinical settings.trials

In addition to assessing the applicability of RCTs, anesthesia providers should also analyze trial results for the presence and frequency of adverse events in their patient populations[3]. As providers, anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are directly implicated in the patient’s pain management, both during and immediately following surgery. Knowing the possible side effects and adverse events of any novel agent is thus critical for understanding its application in the context of individual patients. Certain subpopulations, such as young children and the elderly population may also be more susceptible to adverse events compared to the overall population[4]. By performing a thorough analysis of trial results, including side effects and adverse events, anesthesia providers can better determine which novel technologies and agents are most suited to their practice.

Anesthesia management can benefit from increased exposure to and knowledge of clinical trials. This extra awareness can help equip providers with the relevant information for forecasting future medical management for their patients. As lifelong learners, anesthesia clinicians should also utilize research resources to understand how their field is evolving by staying up-to-date on new medications, innovations in the OR, and interventions for pain management and patient recovery. As new medications and technologies enter hospitals and the OR, anesthesiologists and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) can serve as leaders in progressing anesthesia healthcare delivery.

[1] Karlsen, A. P. H., et al. “Evolution of Bias and Sample Size in Postoperative Pain Management Trials after Hip and Knee Arthroplasty.” Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, vol. 62, no. 5, 2018, pp. 666–676., doi:10.1111/aas.13072.

[2] Pagel, P. S., & Hudetz, J. A. (2012). Recent trends in publication of basic science and clinical research by United States investigators in anesthesia journals. BMC Anesthesiology, 12, 5. doi:10.1186/1471-2253-12-5

[3] Michael M. Todd; Clinical Research Manuscripts in Anesthesiology. Anesthesiology. 2001;95(5):1051-1053.

[4] Luo, J., Eldredge, C., Cho, C. C., & Cisler, R. A. (2016). Population Analysis of Adverse Events in Different Age Groups Using Big Clinical Trials Data. JMIR medical informatics, 4(4), e30. doi:10.2196/medinform.6437

How to Negotiate a Fair Employment Agreement

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

As a newly minted physician, you have defied the odds to gain entrance into a competitive medical school, pored laboriously over textbooks in the library to achieve high scores on the USMLE step examinations, matched into a residency program to further your training, and you have finally received that employment offer from the hospital of your choice! As ecstatic as this moment is, after nearly ten years of continuous work, the next decisions you make could greatly influence the next chapter of your life and career. These career-defining decisions are determined by one singular entity: the employment agreement.

The majority of early-career physicians have yet to negotiate a fair employment agreement, as their schooling and residency programs were likely based on a standardized package that did not differ among matriculants. However, the ability for an employment agreement to vary increases exponentially once you become a physician. How can you be certain that you are being fairly compensated for your hours worked? How do you determine how shifts are assigned to you? What about overtime and call time? Benefits? Each of these items is eminently important to consider before signing on the dotted line and agreeing to begin a career at a new institution. The following will discuss key considerations and best practices for early-stage physicians as they negotiate fair employment agreements with potential future employers.

employmentIt is first important to understand that employment agreements (also known colloquially as “offers” in the working world), will vary from workplace to workplace. There are distinct differences between employment agreements made with academic centers, private hospitals, private practices, and clinics. When deciding on a future employer, it is essential to conduct preliminary research utilizing public websites such as Salary.com or GlassDoor.com. Although there are nuanced considerations to be made between employment settings, there are certain factors that are relevant and non-negotiable for the physician to discuss before accepting an offer from any employer.

1. Clearly-defined, set hours[1]

As an anesthesiologist, it is essential that you discuss the specific hours you will be working. Be sure to have this discussion prior to even considering getting an ID badge. The surgeries are long, and there may be ward responsibilities in addition to your scheduled shifts. You should therefore be clear on exactly when you are expected to be working, and how soon you will be notified in advance of each shift.

2. Compensation — salaried or hourly?[2]

This section of the employment agreement is relatively self-explanatory. Will you be compensated on a salaried or hourly basis? The answer will likely depend on the type of institution you are working for. The HR department at an academic hospital, for example, may prefer physicians to be salaried so they can also commit to academic duties during the work week. However, in a typical hospital or private practice, hours may be tracked more rigorously, and you may be compensated only for the hours you have worked.

3. Medical malpractice protection[3]

In the modern world of medicine where lawsuits are always a possibility, physicians are at risk for being held liable without adequate legal protections. While hospitals enact every possible safety measure to ensure safe, high-quality surgeries, some mistakes are inevitable. Your hospital or future employer should provide you with a contingency plan in the unlikely event of medical malpractice. Possible protections include insurance plans, set annual funds to be used towards any suits, or an on-site lawyer dedicated to malpractice suits.

To our new physicians — congratulations! You are embarking on an enriching and fulfilling career. Before you charge forth into the world of medicine, be sure to sit down and carefully consider and negotiate each employment agreement. By doing so, you can help ensure that you are well-protected, well-supported, and have the necessary tools at your disposal to succeed as a healthcare practitioner!

Reference:

[1]Kraft, J. “The Final Hurdle: A Physician’s Guide to Negotiating a Fair Employment Agreement”. Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Aug 2017.

[2] Oliver, E. “10 statistics on anesthesiologist compensation, benefits.” Becker’s ASC Review. April 2018.

[3] Tan, SY. “Medical Malpractice: Understanding the Law, Managing the Risk”. Hackensack, New Jersey, World Scientific Publishing Company, 2006.