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Archive February 2014 XV, No. 2

Thinking of Buying ... Contract Anesthesia Services

Pick the right provider for your facility's needs.

Tony Mira

BIO

skilled professionals HANDS ON DECK Outsourcing anesthesia gives you access to skilled professionals and control over the services they provide.

The most compelling argument for contracting with an anesthesia group or management company is that it gives your facility the ability to use the market to your advantage. Bidding out business facilitates competition, creativity, and quality and cost management, keys to success in the current healthcare economy.

There's nothing like competition to encourage anesthesia providers to explore and understand your business objectives and to creatively package their offerings into a deal benefiting both parties. In a specialty that is often defined by its adversity to risk, this can develop better solutions, or at least solutions that are more focused on the future than the past.

That's not the only advantage of contracting anesthesia services, though. It can also bring better, more committed clinical partners to your ORs. At the same time, it's based on a contract that remains in force only as long as your service requirements are being met. In short, it gives your facility access to skilled professionals and control and leverage in their performance. But the selection process can be challenging and always involves some degree of risk. So keep these 3 factors in mind:

  • Do you like the providers? Your facility's leadership must feel comfortable with the proposed staff. They must be experienced, credible and sympathetic. What level of commitment and resources will they bring to the contract? Be wary of companies that send in one team to sell the deal, but send in another to provide the services, and of those that don't have longstanding relationships with their clinicians.
  • Does the company know your business? The company must fully understand and appreciate your facility's goals and objectives, and the challenges in reaching those goals. Their interests and vision for success must be aligned with yours, and you must perceive their solutions as realistic and appropriate. Local is usually, but not always, better than remote, but credibility is crucial.
  • Can they deliver the goods? The company's track record and references must confirm their ability to make good on the promises and representations they've made during the sale. This may be the most important factor of all. Inspect, don't expect.

Any resulting contract should reflect a dialogue on accountability, collaboration and innovation. Its provisions should clearly define roles, responsibilities and service requirements in terms that can be measured and monitored to ensure consistent accountability. A good anesthesia group will welcome meaningful benchmarking and a collaborative partnership.

At the end of the day, a surgical facility outsources in order to draw on core competencies that it does not possess in-house. But health care is also a competitive environment, and the contracted provider must also be able to bring innovative new ideas to the relationship. Don't rush the process. Take the time to define your facility's needs and expectations, and don't settle for second-best. As you know, in health care relationships matter.

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