Challenges for Anaesthesia in 2014

July 18, 2014

Challenges and Opportunities for Perioperative Care in 2014

Australian health care services have been under constant review in recent years. With budget pressure increasing yearly due to ageing, obesity and consumer demand, it is anticipated that consolidation of health services and the introduction of mid-level providers will be pursued to improve efficiency, workflow, outcomes and costs.

In the US, healthcare providers are increasingly merging and acquiring each other, including private medical practices. Australian examples, experiencing mixed success, include the introduction of GP superclinics, the addition of nurse practitioners to hospitals and GP clinics, the consolidation of services to fewer public hospitals and merger/ acquisition activity by private healthcare providers in hospitals, day surgeries, private practices and aged care facilities.

These events affect the work of perioperative staff, such as anaesthetists, now and in to the future. It is therefore important to create additional value in services to hospitals, co-workers and patients in order to maintain and promote one’s role. Strategies to consider include:

  1. Treat the patient from the ward, to the operating room (OR) and back again to ensuring continuity of care, not just an OR service. This also helps avoid ‘best-practice silos’ in the postoperative care unit and the ward, through perioperative team development.
  2. Collaborate with hospital leaders/ managers to develop and implement best practices for quality and patient flow across the pre-, intra- and post-operative areas. There are direct benefits to perioperative staff in improving working conditions, as well better patient and economic outcomes.
  3. Provide data to hospital management on OR utilisation and efficiency. Identify bottle-necks. This will help with their strategy planning, and also help ensure resources are allocated to real rather than imagined work practices.
  4. Analyse the drug and equipment choices being made and their impact on cost. A common area of weakness is lack of management visibility of clinical benefits. A simple example is reduced staff costs from efficient OR utilisation and faster recovery with potentially more expensive faster offset, less nausea-inducing medications.

Most importantly work with staff and facilities to see the big ‘patient-centric’ picture. Adding value to the work performed, rather than simply working more, is the strategy most likely to preserve and enhance the role of perioperative staff.


Posted in Blog by Douglas Fahlbusch