In healthcare, the sweet spot is the perfect balance of healthcare spending and patient outcomes. It’s the place of equilibrium that features just the right type and degree of patient care while avoiding the cost and potential harm of unnecessary interventions. Some providers have learned that balancing both clinical and economic concerns must begin on the most basic level—with a check of the patient’s blood health—and implementation of effective patient blood management (PBM) strategies.
SpecialtyCare announced exciting news today. Sam Weinstein, MD, MBA, President and Chief Medical Officer, has been elevated to Chief Executive Officer and Melvin F. Hall, PhD, who has served as CEO since 2014, will assume the role of Executive Chairman. It was also announced that the management team has partnered with Kohlberg & Company, a leading private equity firm, to acquire SpecialtyCare from American Securities, our investment partner for the last six years. These changes offer tremendous opportunities for us to further increase quality of care outcomes while improving value to our customers and patients through strategic acquisitions, organic growth, expanded service offerings, technology upgrades, clinical innovation, and other activities that strengthen our standing as a healthcare provider and an employer of choice.
“We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.” This quote comes from the recent interim report by the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Since 1999, the number of opioid overdoses in the U.S. has quadrupled. Over that same period, the amount of prescription opioids sold has quadrupled as well. With a substantial portion of the population experiencing chronic pain and more than 650,000 prescriptions dispensed every day, the medical profession must employ every available strategy to address the tragic human and economic costs of opioid misuse, abuse, and dependence. One such tactic is to avoid the need for prescription opioids in the first place, or to limit a patient’s pain management need to a very short duration.
Communication in the OR is vital to patient health and safety. Late starts, delays and interruptions, decreased surgeon satisfaction, tension in the OR, and clinical errors often can be attributed to miscommunication or the lack of communication. The effect on patients can be devastating, resulting in readmission, a life-long chronic condition, or worse. The Joint Commission and other organizations routinely list communication failure as one of the most frequent causes of sentinel events, but many “never events” and other problems can be avoided with structured processes and an organizational commitment to prioritize communication.
Parts of the United States are experiencing record-breaking heat this summer, and yet, icebergs are everywhere! Icebergs—the classic metaphor for situations wherein most of the substance (and risk) hide below the surface—have been used to discuss topics as varied as psychology, homelessness, big data, influence, safety, Hemingway, and school performance. Risks hidden below the surface are prevalent in healthcare, too. When teams assess their clinical outcomes, some factors are clear and measurable. These parts of the iceberg are above the surface, and hospitals increasingly are held accountable for them. Other outcomes, or factors that affect outcomes, are lurking within the complexity of hospital operations but are demonstrably significant in the future health of the patient.
Scientists have been fascinated with the workings of the human nervous system dating back to the time of Hippocrates and well before. Today, as members of the healthcare community gain a greater understanding of the system—how to treat its disorders and protect its integrity—interest in the topic continues to grow. The American Clinical Neurophysiology Society (ACNS) has been a leader in education and training for the past 70 years, and its recent annual meeting continued this tradition. SpecialtyCare was pleased to present two new research studies at the event to advance the community’s understanding of intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) and its impact on patient health and safety.
The American Society of Neurophysiological Monitoring (ASNM) is “dedicated to the advancement of quality neurophysiologic monitoring services for neuroprotection.” Stated more simply, it’s all about patient safety. SpecialtyCare is deeply committed to supporting the Society and its mission to grow the profession, provide educational forums, develop quality standards, and build partnerships with allied healthcare professionals. As part of this commitment, members of our team serve in leadership roles with the ASNM and recently contributed several presentations at the organization’s Annual Meeting in May, an event celebrating 40 years of neuromonitoring.
To strengthen alignment among multiple surgical disciplines, the American Society of ExtraCorporeal Technology (AmSECT) and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) teamed up to present a terrific joint learning opportunity, holding AmSECT’s 55th International Conference in conjunction with the Centennial Meeting of the AATS in Boston. The integrated program was designed to improve care by bringing surgeons, perfusionists, and other experts together to foster effective communication and coordination in the operating room. The combined meeting was a great example of collaboration that advances quality through evidence-based learning and improvement. We are proud to have been part of this special event.
Both the American Medical Association and The Joint Commission consider red blood cell transfusion to be among the five most overused procedures, yet it remains one of the most commonly performed medical interventions in U.S. hospitals today. Vague clinical guidelines and long-held norms have created wide variation in the use of transfusion, but many administrators and clinicians are now realizing that reducing transfusion rates with evidence-based patient blood management programs can provide significant clinical and economic benefits.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of trust and confidence in the operating room when so much is on the line. The surgeon needs to know that every member of the OR team is experienced and reliable. This is especially true of the surgical assistant, who serves as an extension of the physician before, during, and after the procedure. In addition to providing exceptional clinical skills, a valuable surgical assistant (SA) understands the surgeon’s preferences and enables a rhythm and a shorthand that promote successful patient outcomes and surgeon satisfaction.