The past 10 years have seen an increase in surgical volumes as health reform has brought more people into the health system. Dr. Thomas Miller, in a recent ASA Monitor post (link), notes that Medicare beneficiaries increased 10% and the Anesthesia claims count increased 136%! Underlying this trend is something less reported– there is a big shift in case volume away from Hospital inpatient settings into freestanding Ambulatory Care Centers and Hospital owned outpatient centers
This trend is likely true among all payers as well. AnesthesiaStat is performing an analysis of data in an HCUP database to look at these trends. There appears to be a shift of of both acuity and volume across the board.
What does this mean for Anesthesia groups? How should you position yourself for the future?
Mark Weiss, JD, in a stimulating and provocative article called,” Impending Death of Hospitals: Will Your Anesthesia Practice Survive?“, argues that hospital consolidation and employment of physicians will be a failure. He believes the shift of volume in to more efficient ASC’s will lead to the failure of hospitals. He concludes with the following, “Freestanding facilities, even mobile ones, will be the future of the huge bulk of surgical care. If your practice isn’t already heavily focused on freestanding facility care, begin pivoting in that direction. ”
So, what does that mean? A simple answer is to start acquiring ASC’s. However, surgeons are getting wise to that solution. In fact, many are utilizing “company model” type solutions to employ Anesthesiologists at below market rates (or replace physicians with CRNA’s to profit) . In Maryland, a coalition of surgeons is attempting to roll back the state self referral law to allow for the company model. In many areas, surgeons are working to create accountable care or bundled payment models that allow them to control the money. Of course, they cannot entirely be to blame. Surgeons are facing decreasing reimbursement and facility fees. Insurers are rejecting out of network models of care, reducing their options. A future article will develop this concept futher and specifically, look at the pressures in GI Anesthesia.
Anesthesiologists must be ready to fight for their independence. Part of this is data driven. Don’t know how? Click here to get in touch. We are happy to help you develop the data driven message your practice needs to show its worth and the value you provide.