5 Quality Improvement Ideas in Anesthesia

Quality in anesthesia has traditionally involved assessing patient complication rates based on available outcome data. This approach does provide useful information, but it’s often difficult to determine the impact of each individual since medicine is a team activity. As a result, the definition of quality has evolved to focus on metrics that increase the opportunities for anesthesia clinicians to influence patient outcomes directly.

Improving the quality of anesthesia takes teamwork. Leaders in the OR must create a culture of engagement for all team members, including the frontline staff, who interact with patients daily. CCI Anesthesia supports the participation of the anesthesia department in training both technical and non-technical medical teams. We periodically engage surgical teams in team-building exercises that help improve communication, which is the foundation of handing off patients in a safe, structured manner.

Quality improvement (QI) initiatives in anesthesia should focus on creating opportunities for clinicians to affect patient outcomes directly. Anesthesia departments should develop criteria for measuring performance in multiple domains, including the relationships between staff and patients. Improving the quality of these services also requires surveying user groups to identify the most important attributes to users. The following five steps show how clinicians can use these results to improve anesthesia quality and deliver, monitor and improve their services on an ongoing basis.

1. Reduce Patient Stays

A proactive approach to pain management and perioperative care contributes to shorter post-operative patient stays, in addition to referring more procedures outside the OR. Current practices in anesthesia are trending toward standardizing pre-procedure evaluations that qualify more patients for minimally invasive procedures, including complex comorbidities. These procedures have a lower rate of complications, like pneumonia and respiratory depression, significantly reducing patient stays. In addition, they provide improved ambulatory experiences, leading to greater patient satisfaction that increases the OR’s profit margin.

2. Reduce Opioid Use

Anesthesia clinicians are uniquely positioned to offer alternatives to prescribing opioids during post-operative recovery. The traditional method of waiting until patients are in the recovery room before controlling pain with an opioid is being replaced with proactive strategies for managing post-operative pain. These include administering non-narcotic analgesics pre- and intra-operatively and other techniques. For example, the increased use of local anesthesia, often combined with other modalities, significantly reduces the need for opiates.

3. Reduce Infections

Techniques for reducing the rate of infections at surgical sites often combine technology, behavioral modification and real-time feedback. These strategies help hospitals implement preventative measures against infection that approach complete compliance with the Surgical Safety Checklist (SSC), as well as protocols for hand hygiene and cleaning recovery rooms. In addition to lowering infection rates, these measures drive higher case volume and OR turnover.

4. Increase Surgeon Satisfaction

Anesthesia clinicians can increase surgeon satisfaction by driving a patient-first culture that prioritizes safety in a healthcare setting. These clinicians play a vital role in creating a collaborative environment through communication, allowing surgeons to achieve their objectives more easily. These strategies include providing teams and tools that boost OR utilization.

5. Improve Patient Experience

Methods of improving patient experience include patient education, data management and aligning surgical departments with patient needs. Today’s anesthesia departments must do more than safely deliver patients to the recovery room. The current model of value-driven payment in healthcare requires clinicians to understand the patient’s experience and build stronger relationships with families after the operation. Best practices in anesthesia also include increasing the number of touchpoints with patients by spending more time discussing the anesthetic plan with patients and listening to their concerns.

How CCI Can Help

CCI’s role in improving a hospital’s anesthesia department includes actively listening to our clients and building our services around their unique needs. The one-size-fits-all approach that most anesthesia management groups use simply won’t allow them to achieve success over the long term. Our approach includes responding to our client’s current challenges with a customized model for implementing services in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible.

Our passion is creating customer-focused anesthesia services, so we always respect them and listen to their needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can improve the quality and management of your anesthesia services.