The Importance of Anesthesia Care in Rural Communities

Anesthesiologist in OR

Rural hospitals face many challenges in meeting the surgical needs of the communities they serve. Our goal at CCI Anesthesia is to alleviate those challenges related to anesthesia services. Over the course of our experience serving community hospitals, we have developed an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the importance of anesthesia care in rural communities. Anesthesiologists and CRNAs practicing in rural settings provide a lifeline to underserved populations who would otherwise be unable to receive the surgical care they need. 

Common Challenges Faced by Community Hospitals

Attracting and retaining anesthesia providers is a common challenge for rural community hospitals. Confounding this issue is the nationwide shortage of anesthesia providers and their highly competitive job market. With staffing woes and tight budgets, many rural facilities may assume they cannot afford to outsource anesthesia services. This can lead to expensive locum tenens usage or even cancelled surgeries. A partnership with the right anesthesia practice management service can be the perfect solution to these challenges. We have provided resources and implemented a strategy that has proven to produce positive outcomes at the community hospitals we support across the country. 

Step 1: Hiring Only the Best Anesthesia Providers

Ordinary, average or mediocre anesthesia providers will not make the cut at CCI Anesthesia. Independent providers who thrive without receiving instruction from others are ideal for working in rural settings. Our providers are extremely proficient in performing all types of anesthesia care at every level of patient acuity. It takes a special anesthesia provider to fit the mold for delivering rural care, but we know how to find them and place them in communities where they are needed most. 

Step 2: Consider an All-CRNA Practice

In rural areas where access to care is problematic for underserved patient populations, CRNA-only practices are common. In fact, a recent study published in the September/October 2015 issue of Nursing Economic$ found that CRNAs are providing the majority of anesthesia care in U.S. counties with lower-income populations and populations that are more likely to be uninsured or unemployed. Since there is no evidence that CRNA’s working alone undermine the quality of care, this is excellent news for underserved patient populations. Keep in mind that most of the hands-on anesthesia patient care in the United States is delivered by CRNAs. This, and the fact that CRNAs undergo approximately eight years of coursework and clinical hours—amassing nearly 9,400 hours of clinical experience—make them fully prepared to practice autonomously.

Step 3: Leverage Telehealth When Possible

We know what you must be thinking—how can anesthesia care be delivered via telehealth? While this service has been on the rise for many years and became even more commonly used during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has never been commonly used among anesthesiologists. However, recent advances in health and communication technologies have allowed anesthesiologists to extend perioperative consultation services to geographically remote areas. For example, airway cameras can allow anesthesiologists to assess cardiac and pulmonary health. In some situations, implementing a telehealth program in your anesthesia department can be highly beneficial. 

Should You Outsource Anesthesia at Your Community Hospital?

We know how daunting it seems to outsource anesthesia services. We can assure you that outsourcing to CCI Anesthesia will result in less stress, better coverage and higher value. With CCI as your anesthesia practice management partner, we will reverse inefficiencies and boost quality and clinical outcomes, ultimately improving your bottom line. On average, we are able to save $300,000 annually in anesthesia costs for our clients. When your anesthesia department is staffed more efficiently, revenue is captured better and patient satisfaction scores surge, your community hospital’s budget will thank you for outsourcing. 

Improve access to anesthesia care at your rural facility by calling us today at 800.494.3948.