Anesthesia’s role in surgeon satisfaction
By Tim Adams, M.D., President and Chief Medical Officer
Less than half of U.S. surgeons are satisfied with their career, earning the third lowest ranking among the 25 other specialties surveyed in a 2015 Medscape report.
This is an alarming statistic not only for current health systems and patient communities who desperately need the services of specialized and clinically skilled surgeons, but future generations as well. Of the anticipated physician shortage over the next 10 years, the shortage of surgeons is expected to be one of the highest; a 2015 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a deficit of up to 31,600 surgeons by 2025.
Not only does this present a problem to patient populations in need of surgical care, but it jeopardizes the future viability of hospitals and health systems across the country. The OR can drive up to 70 percent of a hospital’s revenue, according to HealthLeaders Media. This means both surgeons and anesthesia providers are in a pivotal position when it comes to optimizing a hospital’s productivity and improving its chances for future success.
While surgeons are our partners in the OR, they are also our customers. Below are three tips for anesthesia providers to improve surgeon satisfaction and ensure an efficient and positive operating environment:
Establish clinical credibility
Surgeons appreciate having anesthesia providers who are clinically skilled and knowledgeable. Anesthesiologists should establish credibility among surgeons and other clinical staff members to not only ensure an efficient OR and high-quality patient care, but to develop positive relationships built on mutual trust and respect.
A study published in the journal Patient Safety in Surgery found that four times as many anesthesia providers as surgeons acknowledged misreporting information at least once per month. And yet, despite this imbalance, nearly 70 percent of the anesthesia providers surveyed were concerned about surgeons misreporting information, when only 8 percent of surgeons shared reciprocal concerns. Trust and appreciation among clinical co-workers are vital to ensure optimal surgeon satisfaction and a well-run OR.
As hospital operating margins shrink and the shift toward a value-based system continues, physician efficiency has become critical to a health system’s success. Healthcare executives rely more heavily than ever on physicians who can see patients in a timely manner and add value to the overall care continuum.
Because of the OR’s primary position within a hospital’s revenue stream, anesthesia providers, surgeons and OR staff must work together to provide efficient, quality care while mitigating delays and surgery rescheduling. A study published in the journal Academic Medicine cited inefficiencies/delayed start times and a lack of control over OR resources as primary reasons behind surgeon dissatisfaction.
The report also found, however, that surgeons did enjoy resolving patient problems quickly and the social aspect of their work, i.e. interacting with other providers and OR staff. The more anesthesiologists can aid surgeons in running a smooth and efficient OR with minimal interruptions and patient issues, the better off the health system will be.
Develop consistent routines
Surgeons don’t like to play musical chairs when it comes to OR staff. Rather, they like to work with a consistent set of anesthesia providers with whom they’ve developed positive relationships.
Anesthesiologists should become familiar with surgeons’ nuances, preferences and routines, and tailor the way they provide care accordingly. Without compromising patient care, anesthesia providers should develop protocols that encourage surgeon satisfaction and OR efficiency through familiarity and positive relationships with their surgeon partners.
Ensuring surgeon satisfaction has become crucial for anesthesia providers across the United States. To learn more about how to exceed surgeons’ expectations and increase their satisfaction, please contact us at info@EpixAnesthesia.com.