5 ways to enhance proceduralist satisfaction and why it matters

When it comes to generating hospital revenue, proceduralists are among the most valuable healthcare providers at any facility.

According to Merritt Hawkins' 2013 Physician Inpatient/Outpatient Revenue survey, proceduralists – a term that refers to medical professionals who perform procedures, such as general surgeons, gastroenterologists and interventional cardiologists – are among the largest revenue generators for hospitals. Orthopedic surgery practices lead the pack, producing an average of $2.68 million in annual revenue for their affiliated hospitals, and invasive cardiology ($2.17 million) and general surgery ($1.86 million) are also among the top five.

To ensure this important group of providers maintain and grow their case volumes, hospitals must keep their proceduralists happy. In fact, a Gallup study released in 2014 showed that engaged physicians are 26 percent more productive than their disengaged counterparts, bringing in approximately $460,000 in additional revenue each year.

Here are five ways hospitals can enhance and maintain satisfaction among their proceduralists.

1. Standardize pre-admission testing.
When a proceduralist has a case scheduled in the operating room (OR), it is critical it begins on time so there are no delays effecting the proceduralist's schedule and case cancellations are not a surprise. Scheduling efficiency adds greatly to both proceduralist and patient satisfaction. Hospitals need to standardize the pre-admission testing process and ensure that all relevant tests are completed and reviewed days in advance. When this process (typically led by the anesthesia team) is executed well, adequate time is available to complete the required testing and address any abnormal results in a timely manner.

2. Proactively manage the OR schedule.
A reactive approach to OR schedule management leads to delays and cancellations in the OR schedule. This can be mitigated by holding a "daily huddle" for all individuals involved in the care of surgical patients, including anesthesiologists, surgical nurses, central supply, etc. During this daily meeting, the group should review the schedule for the next day, the next week or even weeks in advance to identify cases that require specific services, equipment or supplies that need to be planned for in advance. It also allows the team to identify any opportunities in the schedule to shuffle cases if a cancellation cannot be avoided.

3. Follow best practices for enhanced outcomes.
When a case begins, following best practices to enhance patient outcomes helps promote patient satisfaction and high quality outcomes while maintaining proceduralist satisfaction. For example, following best practices for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) – a perioperative care pathway designed to achieve early recovery for patients undergoing major surgery – helps reduce length of stay and allows patients to recover more quickly while experiencing fewer complications and post-operative pain. In the days of outcome reporting transparency, fewer complications equate with favorable proceduralist and facility publically reportable data – critical to the ability to continue attracting patients and remaining in good standing with payors.

4. Communicate outside the OR.
Enhancing proceduralist satisfaction also requires looking beyond the timing, readiness and best practices associated with each case to consider factors contributing to outcomes as well as other concerns these physicians may be facing. Rounding with proceduralists on a monthly basis – a process optimally led by the anesthesia department – allows the organization to understand and address these factors before they reduce proceduralist satisfaction or impede productivity.

5. You cannot manage what you don't measure.
As with any metric you are trying to improve, it's vital to measure satisfaction regularly to gauge progress and determine areas for improvement. Set an aggressive goal for high satisfaction rates and survey proceduralists annually.

Proceduralist satisfaction is important for patient outcomes and the economic health of any hospital. Making it a priority and following these steps can have a positive impact for any hospital in helping them achieve the "triple aim" of healthcare – improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of their populations, and reducing the per capita cost of health care.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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