A Seamless Transition at a Southern Health System

Any time uncertainty looms in a workplace, it’s common for a sense of dread to surface. Hospitals are no exception. “What ifs” and speculation make the rounds almost as often as physicians do. However, if a facility has a strong strategic partner that focuses on them, the anxiety that inevitably comes with change evaporates quickly and transition is seamless and effective. Such was the case with this multi-hospital healthcare organization that provides complex surgical services to its community.

The System wanted a partner for anesthesia service, not merely a provider group. The relationship with the existing providers was good, but they needed more responsiveness. The System’s Leadership started scouting options. It came down to three or four companies, and Premier Anesthesia stood out. “We needed someone with history and experience that could ensure a smooth transition,” a system representative said. “We were looking for someone that had experience managing a multi-hospital system. We have surgeons who go from hospital to hospital, and we needed anesthesiologists who would do the same thing.”

Premier’s references were “glowing.” Its presentation was impressive. A partnership was started. But what helped diminish anxiety and the fear of the unknown? For that, we need to look back to before the contract was signed.

At first, like in other workplaces, people began to wonder whether they should start looking for positions elsewhere. But the system representative said, “A lot of their fears were alleviated when they started talking to Premier about what the plan was.” Premier deployed a team to meet with and assess the anesthesia providers who were in place. That made a difference. “We knew that we were going to sign the contract, but it wasn’t official. Premier came into town with their recruiting and HR people and arranged a dinner to meet the providers.”

Premier Anesthesia has seen repeatedly that retaining key providers makes transitions go much more easily. Many times, facility leaders know they have some good people and want to work with Premier to build the strongest team possible with those core providers. “We feel like we had quality anesthesia providers,” the representative said. “That includes all the anesthesiologists and CRNAs. We weren’t looking to run people off, but at the same time we wanted a company that would work with the existing providers and do the best they could.” Forty days before the contract’s startup, Premier signed competitive contracts for all but two of the existing providers. Replacements were recruited and in place by the time the contract started. The providers hit the ground running, with no disruption to service.

After the personnel was set, the Premier startup team got to work. As the system’s strategic partner, Premier made all decisions for the anesthesia practice by concentrating on what was best for the hospitals’ patients and stakeholders – learning what the facilities really needed and helping achieve it – a “hospital-centric” approach.

The first week of the contract, Premier’s VP of Medical Affairs began examining quality initiatives that were in the pipeline. Premier’s Regional Operations Director jumped in and started meeting with key people about improving processes. “They were open to things we were looking at. That is the Premier approach to working with their partners,” the representative said.

The startup team began working on the Anesthesia Transition Plan. It’s a detailed list of tactical activities in the customer activation process that brings providers on to the Premier Anesthesia team. When these tasks were completed, it helped ensure a transition with the least disruption possible. The Transition Plan is designed to uncover challenges in aligning the hospital and anesthesia service. Among the activities: stakeholder interviews (including surgeons, perioperative staff, administration and others), reviews of operational and clinical procedures and examinations of financial procedures and credentialing.

In addition to the meticulous research, plans and protocols, Premier Anesthesia also goes out of its way to establish a partnership with strong communication.

Early in the process, Premier’s team organized frequent meetings with system stakeholders to develop goals and track progress on a Startup Action Plan. These meetings helped Premier see the importance of achieving solutions to the hospitals’ anesthesia issues and come up with strategies to approach the challenges. Premier now meets monthly with hospital leadership to review the clinical, operational and financial aspects of the practice and to make sure progress toward fully implementing the Anesthesia Business Plan is on track.

“The proactive communication from Premier has been very positive,” the representative said. “Two potential issues have escalated to the leadership level, which is normal for a hospital. The Premier team has responded well. I was pleased with this outcome. We know there will be issues. We want a partner that, when things come up, we can sit down with and say, ‘Hey, how can we resolve this?’”

The system’s representative believes signing on with Premier Anesthesia was a great decision and he would do it again. “It’s been positive – it really has. One of the biggest things is that we had no disruption to service. Surgeons didn’t have to see a revolving door of providers – that was probably one of the top things.”

Uncertainty is inevitable in any workplace from time to time. That’s why it’s so important to have the right strategic partner by your side – one that will always be focused on your facility’s priorities – to replace uncertainty with confidence.

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