Atrium CEO: Patient bills fell 10% after controversial anesthesiology switch

Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health's CEO said switching anesthesiology vendors in 2018 — a move that sparked litigation — is decreasing patients' medical bills, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Atrium CEO Eugene Woods told board commissioners during a meeting March 26 that patients' out-of-pocket costs have dropped roughly 10 percent on average since the health system made the change. Atrium replaced longtime provider Southeast Anesthesiology Consultants, an affiliate of Florida-based Mednax, with Scope Anesthesia of North Carolina in July 2018.

As a result, SAC sued the health system in March 2018, alleging Atrium and Scope Anesthesia stole trade secrets and used that information to poach the contract from SAC. In May of the same year, SAC filed a temporary restraining order and injunction against Atrium and its new anesthesiology provider, claiming the health system and its new provider attempted to recruit physicians from SAC.

At the time, Atrium told Becker's Hospital Review in an emailed statement that the injunction and temporary restraining order represented "another meritless legal attack" against the health system.

In making the switch, Atrium said since Scope Anesthesia isn't a publicly traded company facing shareholder pressures, it expected anesthesiology costs to decrease. Mr. Wood said Atrium is on track to save nearly $20 million under the switch, according to The Charlotte Observer.

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