ASCs offer anesthesiologists stipends as competition heats up

Some ASCs have had their patient volumes and bottom lines affected by the inability to access anesthesia providers.

"The continued shortage of anesthesiologists has led to many surgery procedures having to be canceled and/or postponed both in the hospital as well as the ASC setting," Bruce Feldman, administrator of Bronx (N.Y.) Ambulatory Surgery Center, told Becker's.

Surgery centers are rethinking their anesthesia models as the landscape becomes more competitive, which is a daunting prospect. There are clear regulatory hurdles to meet, and securing anesthesiologists may require additional compensation.

"We are seeing more and more ASCs needing to offer stipends while still needing to maintain a healthy bottom line," said Ashley Hilliard, MSN, RN, administrator of Deerpath Ambulatory Surgery Center. "The shortage of anesthesia providers coupled with the demand for higher wages is something to keep an eye on, especially in the smaller ASCs."

Andrew Lovewell, CEO of Columbia (Mo.) Orthopedic Group, is also concerned about the anesthesia provider shortage. His practice now employs the anesthesiologists who provide services at COG's ASC, providing higher salaries and better benefits than the group had when it was independent. But employing anesthesiologists has its own set of challenges, and his group is still looking to hire more providers.

"We are short in anesthesia personnel, key business office functions and surgical technicians. Our shortages compound as payers make the process significantly more complicated to get paid for services," he said. "Finding qualified anesthesia personnel that embrace the high volume orthopedic ASC is a challenge as well."

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