Exploring the Anesthesia Care Team Model: Benefits and Considerations

There are three standard options for anesthesia coverage: all MD, anesthesia care team (ACT) and CRNA only. Here, we’ll explore the ACT (typically comprised of anesthesiologists, CRNAs and other care professionals). This model of care allows physicians to work closely with patients in all phases of the operative process while utilizing the expertise and experience of various professionals. That being said, an effective ACT requires more coordination than other models of care due to a higher number of care providers.

Components of the Anesthesia Care Team Model

The ACT model requires each care provider on the team to offer contributions that lead to positive patient outcomes. This highly collaborative model utilizes the skills that each team member brings to the table.

ACT members typically include:

  • Anesthesiologist: A physician, fellow, or resident leads the care team, ensures a positive patient outcome and adequately represents other team members. This team member is responsible for the preoperative evaluation and decision to proceed, prescribing the anesthetic plan, managing the anesthetic, providing postanesthesia care and managing the team.
  • CRNA: A registered nurse with specialized anesthesia training who assists the team leader. This team member is responsible for administering anesthesia under the guidance of the anesthesiologist, staying with the patient throughout the entire surgical process.

Benefits of the Anesthesia Care Team Model

Outcomes can improve when multiple care providers can weigh in on patient-related decisions. A multidisciplinary approach means additional experience can be applied to each situation, allowing each care provider to utilize the knowledge of others on their team.

High-level providers working together also makes it easier to have a flexible schedule, increasing OR efficiency and improving providers’ work-life balance.

Team Dynamics and Communication

For the CT model to work well, providers must be able to communicate easily and work as a team. If your healthcare organization is transitioning to an ACT model, you may want to take some steps to help foster a positive team environment. It can take some time for providers to get into a groove of smooth, effective communication, especially if they’re accustomed to working within a different model of anesthesia care.

Strategies to foster effective collaboration include:

  • Hold briefings and debriefings to provide an opportunity for team members to share their thoughts
  • Use communication boards to boost collaboration
  • Provide stress management training, as well as opportunities for stress relief (such as an in-building gym, meditation classes, or reimbursement for stress management activities)

Impact on Patient Satisfaction

When the OR team is on the same page, patients notice. From pre-op to post-op care, patients feel comfort and safety when their care plan is streamlined and cohesive. ACT teams can provide comprehensive, collaborative care through each stage of the treatment process, allowing patients to focus solely on their recovery at the end of the surgical process.

Economic and Operational Considerations

Less expensive than an all-MD model yet pricier than a CRNA-only model, the ACT model allows hospitals to utilize the talent and expertise of various care providers fully. Bringing anesthesia professionals together can be a cost-effective way to increase a healthcare organization’s operational efficiency.

Adopt the ACT Model in Your Facility

The anesthesia care team model requires a higher level of collaboration than other models but is vital in improving patient outcomes, boosting OR efficiency and supporting the career satisfaction of care providers. Healthcare facilities that are not already utilizing the ACT model for anesthesia management should explore this option moving forward.