Practice Management 2013

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May 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 5
Practice Management 2013 James R. Mesrobian, M.D., Chair Committee on Practice Management

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT 2013 took place in Las Vegas on January 25-27. This year’s conference set a new attendance record, with more than 900 anesthesiologists and administrators present! Attendees heard a variety of experts speak about important financial, regulatory and legal issues impacting the practice of anesthesiology.

As in previous years, conference attendees were able to attend one of four pre-conferences before the main conference. These pre-conferences target specific issues in detail and are designed for anesthesiologists with varying levels of expertise in practice management. The pre-conferences this year were:

1. Basics: this conference consisted of 12 presentations geared toward anesthesiologists new to practice management or department leadership.
2. Advanced: this conference consisted of five more in-depth presentations, including Developing a Business Plan for an Acute Pain Practice; Contracts: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Responding to a RFP; Developing Your Value Proposition; and Demonstrating the Value of a Preoperative Clinic.
3. Certificate in Business Administration: titled “Strategies to Succeed with Emerging Payment Models,” this pre-conference had numerous experts speak about anesthesia payment models, valuation of anesthesia services and strategies.
4. Chronic Pain: a new addition in 2013, this half-day pre-conference covered a variety of topics essential to managing a profitable and viable chronic pain practice. After a successful inaugural year, this conference will return in 2014.

The main conference began on Friday evening with a keynote presentation by Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Korky von Kessel, Vice-President of Lifewings. Mr. von Kessel spoke eloquently about how key concepts in aviation such as teamwork, communication and safety apply also to health care in general and anesthesiology in particular. On Saturday morning, ASA President John Zerwas, M.D. addressed attendees on key issues facing our society and specialty. The remainder of the morning consisted of panels on two topics: Physician Performance (The Aging Anesthesiologist; Fatigue; and Patient Satisfaction in Anesthesiology) and Hot Topics in Anesthesiology (The Company Model; Credentialing Issues; and CMS Interpretive Guidelines). Stan Stead, M.D., M.B.A., presented the business school lecture titled, “Analyzing the Purchase of an Anesthesiology Practice.” His talk highlighted the challenges faced by many anesthesiology groups when deciding whether or not to sell a practice and also included a number of case models illustrating how to analyze an offer to sell. The afternoon session also included an entertaining and lively pro-con debate between Robert Lagasse, M.D. and Laura Dew, M.D. These two experts in hospital accreditation discussed the relative merits of two accrediting agencies, The Joint Commission and Det Norske Veritas.

On Sunday morning, conference attendees heard a series of updates from the ASA Washington, D.C. office. Manuel Bonilla, M.S., Chief Advocacy Officer, spoke about the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other federal issues related to health care; Jason Hansen, M.S., J.D., ASA Director of State Affairs, described different challenges faced by states; and Tom Miller, M.B.A., ASA Director of Health Policy Research, described ASA’s new Health Care Policy Research Group and its goals for 2014. Bernice Hecker, M.D., Medicare Director for Noridian, described how anesthesiologists can interact with and influence the contractor medical directors who make critical decisions about coverage of medical services by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The conference concluded with a trio of excellent speakers: Tom Valuck, M.D., J.D., Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at the National Quality Forum; Ana McKee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at The Joint Commission, and Rick Dutton, M.D., M.B.A., Director of the Anesthesia Quality Institute. Each described how his/her organization defines “value” in health care and in anesthesiology specifically.

Additional highlights of the conference included:

  • For the second year, the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research sponsored a competition on research in practice management. More than 25 abstracts were reviewed and judged by a panel of experts. Andre Atoian, M.D., author of the winning abstract “Evidence for a Surgical Home,” presented his findings to attendees.
  • On Saturday evening, attendees had the opportunity to speak in small-group sessions with 30 experts on a variety of topics. These popular roundtable sessions gave attendees the chance to interact with and learn from many of the conference speakers.
  • For the first time, the conference included use of an audience response system. Many of the speakers used the system to ask questions of the audience and overall enhance the experience for attendees.
  • A wine reception sponsored by the conference’s corporate exhibitors. The reception gave attendees the opportunity to speak with colleagues as well as the different companies exhibiting at the conference.

  • The ASA Conference on Practice Management gives attendees the opportunity to learn about both current and future critical challenges facing anesthesiologists. Based upon this year’s conference, demand for information about practice management and for the opportunity to learn in a dynamic environment will continue to grow. The Committee on Practice Management already has begun planning for the 2014 conference, January 24-26, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. We look forward to seeing you there!

    James (Jay) R. Mesrobian, M.D. is a staff anesthesiologist with Aurora Medical Group, Milwaukee.