Previously, we studied the relative importance of different institutional interventions that the largest hospital in Iowa could take to grow the anesthesia department’s outpatient surgical care. Most (>50%) patients having elective surgery had not previously had surgery at the hospital. Patient perioperative experience was unimportant for influencing total anesthesia workload and numbers of patients. More important was the availability of surgical clinic appointments within several days. These results would be generalizable if the median time from surgery to a patient’s next surgical procedure was large (eg, >2 years), among all hospitals in Iowa with outpatient surgery, and without regard to the hospital where the next procedure was performed.METHODS:
There were 37,172 surgical cases at hospital outpatient departments of any of the 117 hospitals in Iowa from July 1, 2013, to September 30, 2013. Data extracted about each case included its intraoperative work relative value units. The 37,172 cases were matched to all inpatient and outpatient records for the next 2 years statewide using patient linkage identifiers; from these were determined whether the patient had surgery again within 2 years. Furthermore, the cases’ 1820 surgeons were matched to the surgeon’s next outpatient or inpatient case, both including and excluding other cases performed on the date of the original case.RESULTS:
By patient, the median time to their next surgical case, either outpatient or inpatient, exceeded 2 years, tested with weighting by intraoperative relative value units and repeated when unweighted (both P < .0001). Specifically, with weighting, 65.9% (99% confidence interval [CI], 65.2%–66.5%) of the patients had no other surgery within 2 years, at any hospital in the state. The median time exceeded 2 years for multiple categories of patients and similar measures of time to next surgery (all P < .01). In comparison, by surgeon, the median time to the next outpatient surgical case was 1 calendar day (99% CI, 0–1 day). The median was 3 days to the next date with at least 1 outpatient case (99% CI, 3–3 days).CONCLUSIONS:
The median time to the next surgery was >2 years for patients versus 1 day for surgeons. Thus, although patients’ experiences are an important attribute of quality of care, surgeons’ experiences are orders of magnitude more important from the vantage point of marketing and growth of an anesthesia practice.