As a health care executive (HCE), I know first-hand the challenges nearly every hospital and health system faces in today’s constrained environment. While some of the issues may vary regionally, many institutions are having to do more with less due to workforce challenges, including fewer staff, elective surgery backlogs, lower inpatient bed availability, and reduced OR capacity.

These challenges have a serious financial impact, but anesthesiologists are uniquely positioned to help find solutions. We touch every specialty in caring for patients and play a vital role in the OR caring for patients before, during, and after surgery.

But not all HCEs recognize our leadership and the value we bring to hospitals and health systems beyond the expected “safe, high-quality anesthesia services.” To further promote the specialty and the role we can play with HCEs, ASA has partnered with the American Hospital Association (AHA) on a variety of activities, including an invitation-only roundtable and podcast.

ASA member and HCE Joanne Conroy, MD, and I participated in a virtual discussion with other HCEs from across the country to discuss the challenges facing hospitals and health systems. Dr. Conroy is CEO and President of Dartmouth Health. The discussion looked at how health leaders are tackling these issues by expanding and monitoring the use of existing OR capacity, using anesthesiologists and surgical teams to improve perioperative performance, and exploring new practice models.

Some of the strategies highlighted to optimize perioperative performance included:

  • Utilizing anesthesiologists in leadership positions
  • Strengthening surgery operations governance models and partnerships with clinical leadership
  • Developing care pathways for same-day discharges
  • Shifting some of the surgical load to ambulatory surgical centers
  • Adopting different delivery models around nursing (team nursing) on the inpatient side
  • Employing flexible programs to fill immediate, short-term, and long-term assignments in nursing and other specialties, expanding training programs, and partnering with schools.

Full insights from the discussion are featured in an e-book published on the ASA and AHA websites and promoted through digital advertising to HCEs. I encourage you to review the e-book (

Building on that conversation, ASA President-Elect Ronald L. Harter, MD, FASA, joined me to discuss workforce challenges in an AHA Bringing Value podcast. Our conversation focused on how, as perioperative leaders, anesthesiologists are working with HCEs to proactively address these challenges to meet current and future patient demand, maintain quality outcomes, and generate revenue so that they can continue to care for their communities. Some of those solutions include optimizing the surgical load, increasing the supply of physicians and advanced practice providers, and collaborating with other stakeholders to address this number one health care challenge.