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Anesthesiologists as 'Air Traffic Controllers of the OR'

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, April 24, 2014

Early results of a new program focusing on anesthesiologists' interactions with patients show promise toward improving patient satisfaction. "As hospitals prioritize patient satisfaction, anesthesiologists play a more visible role," says a Florida physician key to the program.

It's not by drugs alone that anesthesiologists can reduce patient anxiety and make them feel good about their experience in the hospital. Patient education provided by these specialists is helping one Florida hospital improve on a key indicator of patient satisfaction.

Boosting patient satisfaction can be a hard concept for leadership to grasp for many reasons:

  • Each patient brings a different set of expectations for what "good" means;
  • Measuring a patient's satisfaction with his or her care isn't an exact science despite the HCAHPS tool;
  • Sometimes difficult to pinpoint who exactly is responsible for patient satisfaction when teams of caregivers share the load

At Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, FL, however, a new program focusing on the anesthesiologists' interaction with the patient holds some promise toward improving patient satisfaction.

Anesthesiologists are part of a specialty committed to improving patient satisfaction and experience. In April 2013, the American Society of Anesthesiologists and its Committee on Performance and Outcomes Measurement issued a white paper detailing the importance of the anesthesiologist's role in patient experience, and issued four recommendations for collecting data to measure satisfaction.

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