Whether you believe it or not, anesthesiologists and CRNAs are in the service industry. Relationships are important on many levels in our line of work. More contracts are lost due to the relationship between the anesthesia department and patients, nursing administration, surgeons, and fellow coworkers than any other reason. If you are a Chief of Anesthesia and think since these relationships are great that your group won’t be going anywhere, think again. You might be fostering strong relationships, but what about your colleagues? What about the owners of your group or those in direct contact with the OR directors and administration?
No administration ever truly wants to change anesthesia. They will attempt to work things out time and time again until they have exhausted all avenues. Many administrators perceive transitioning anesthesia groups as an expensive or daunting task, even though this is not always the case. At DPI Anesthesia, we make transitions easy, and we value trust and respect. Our goal is to ensure a long-lasting partnership with our clients that is built on shared goals and mutual trust.
DPI Anesthesia providers treat all hospital staff with respect and believe that no particular job is more important than any others. Having more initials behind your name than someone else does not equate to being more important. When we hire anesthesia providers, we consider more than their clinical skills. We take their personality and interpersonal skills into account to ensure they are a good fit for the culture where they would be working. Relationship skills, even at the provider level, are key to long-term relationships with clients.
When it comes to patient care, interpersonal skills are almost as important as clinical acumen. As an anesthesia provider, we have about thirty seconds to read a patient’s anxiety level and treat them appropriately. By the time the preoperative interview is over, the patient must trust that their anesthesia provider will take care of them. Considering that hospital and anesthesia reimbursement is tied to patient satisfaction scores, these patient relationships are also key to long-term relationships with clients.
Surgeon satisfaction is paramount to the success of an anesthesia group. Since anesthesia providers are there to provide a service for the facility and the surgeons, these relationships are important. Recently we were asked by a new client, “who does the OR contact if they have an add-on case for the next day?” This question spoke volumes about the type of service they were receiving from their former anesthesia group. Our response to the client was to simply add it on. DPI Anesthesia providers are willing to do the extra case, no matter how small. This goes a long way with surgeons and OR staff. We have also seen cases where the anesthesia department had only certain people who were allowed to perform postoperative pain blocks. If these certain team members were not there to perform the blocks, patients would go without. This is unacceptable. We believe it is important for everyone on the anesthesia team to be able to perform procedures that will benefit the patient.
Ultimately, when it comes to anesthesia care, administrators want a partner. The anesthesia contract should be beneficial for both parties and have a provision that allows either party to come to the table to review unbudgeted costs. As a partner, you can’t always go to the well asking for more. We always remember that if we have a decrease in revenue, our clients probably are also. When we are doing great, we look at the possibility of decreasing stipends at the end of the year. We meet with administration on a regular basis to ask for their feedback on any issues that may arise and give financial updates. These scenarios go a long way when contracts are up for renewal.
The last key element of respecting relationships is to have fun. We can be professional while having fun doing our jobs. Simply talking to people is an easy way to do this, and an even easier way is listening. DPI Anesthesia providers actively listen to our stakeholders and patients. We are lifelong learners who are always eager to hear new opinions and try new things.
Even though the relationship between administration and anesthesia may be a business relationship, it is the personal relationships that will make it a long-term marriage instead of a short-term courtship. This is why we consider people to be our greatest investment and asset.
“Relationships! We all got ’em, we all want ’em. What do we do with ’em?” –Jimmy Buffett