The decision to seek surgical treatment is not an easy one to make. There are so many things to consider – the quality of the surgeon and facility, the duration of the procedure, the recovery process, pain and, if you can find it, the cost of the surgery, just to name a few. At the top of your list of concerns should be the overall quality of the surgeon. Unfortunately, this information is not readily available, at least not to the untrained eye.
Obviously, not all surgery providers are created equal. According to BLIS, a company that underwrites surgical complications insurance, surgeons are by far the most important person in achieving a quality surgical outcome. How much? It’s not even close! The quality of the surgeon is 30X more important than the next most important person, the anesthesiologist. And quality can have a big impact. According to an analysis by Consumers’ Checkbook, the mortality rate among patients who underwent heart valve and bypass surgery was 11% for poorly rated surgeons versus 3% for their most sought-after colleagues.
The problem is, that it’s not easy to find data on surgeon quality. And what you might find is based on Medicare claims which are often skewed towards surgeons who operate on Medicare age patients. Then what is the best way to find quality surgeons? It turns out the best way to find out this information is to ask other surgeons and anesthesiologists. As you might guess, not many people have access to these people. So where do you turn?
At Texas Medical Management (TMM), our surgeon CEO and board peer-select, board-certified surgeons to give you the best outcomes possible. Below we dive into what all this means technically. What you should know is that quality is at the center of everything we do. And to that end, we don’t stop with the selection process. We continuously monitor our surgeons for quality by collecting Patient-Reported Outcomes from every patient: first, prior to their consultation with the surgeon; next, at 120 days; and lastly, at 365 days. Our surgeons love this type of feedback which they do not get from anyone including insurance companies.
We understand that getting a surgical procedure requires careful thought. In this article, we will highlight some indicators of a good surgeon.
A Qualified and Experienced Surgeon
Our surgeon CEO and board lead the selection and vetting of all our surgeons. Because of their quality and reputation, we also pay our surgeons several times more than insurance companies. Rewarding surgeons for their quality is important to us. Here are a few basic data points that can help you select a good surgeon:
- Board certification —A surgeon must complete 4-years of medical school, then 3+ years of residency and fellowship training to become board-eligible. A surgeon is approved by their specialty board after performing surgery for a couple of years, submitting this case data for review and passing a rigorous written and oral board exam. Today, most specialists, particularly surgeons are board-certified
- Eligibility to Perform Surgery in Texas – You can also use the Federation of State Medical Board and other online resources to not only find surgeons in Texas but also learn if the surgeon you’re considering is licensed in the state. Today you may also look up whether the surgeon you are considering has had troubles in the past.
- Fellowship in the American College of Surgeons —The post-nominals FACS attached to a surgeon’s name is another good sign. FACS stands for Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. To earn those letters, a surgeon would have passed a thorough evaluation of both professional competence and ethical fitness.
- Number of Surgeries Performed in a Year – As we all know, the more you do the better you get. It is the same for surgeons. Surgeons who perform the same procedure tens or hundreds of times a year are far more competent than those who rarely do so. Finding a surgeon who does many operations that are similar to yours each year will probably be a better choice than one who does few.
An Accredited Facility for Surgical Procedures
Surgery is a team sport and the facility is important to the degree that it has the proper equipment and people to assist the surgeon. Most facilities obtain accreditation to validate their capabilities with regard to following well-established processes and hiring and training the right personnel.:
- Surgical Techs – Otherwise known as ‘scrub-techs’, these people are critical to helping the surgeon have the right equipment and tools available during the surgery. They have extensive knowledge of the procedures your surgeon performs and are often chosen by the surgeon for each case.
- Surgical Nurses – Nurses are an important part of healthcare across the board and no less so in surgery. Surgical nurses assist the surgeon during the procedure and are especially attentive to the patient’s needs.
- Anesthesiologist – Board-certified anesthesiologists are physicians trained in the art of putting people to sleep for invasive procedures like surgery and, more importantly, waking them up afterwards. These doctors are generally not employed by the facility but do tend to work at the same facility for years, giving surgeons confidence in their ability to handle the patients and surgeries they are doing.
Transparent Surgery Prices
Unfortunately, healthcare pricing is far from transparent even today. As you shop around for the best price, you will find it difficult for any one person to give you a price for their part, much less an all-inclusive price. Healthcare is a fragmented industry; in most cases, the surgeon, facility and anesthesia are in separate organizations and each bill for their services. Additionally, there are often people in the ‘operating room’ you are not aware of until you start to receive their bills. In this category are surgical assistants, pathology or surgery monitoring personnel. As of January 1, 2022, by law, all facilities must provide you with a ‘good-faith’ estimate of the cost of your procedure. However, that is only for the facility; you still need to ask for the same information from your surgeon and anesthesiologist.
Due to the nature of insurance and how they contract with healthcare providers like surgeons, most providers are not prepared to calculate and give you pricing for surgeries or episodes of care. Thankfully, there is positive movement in this direction with the No Surprises Act and other legislation passed since 2019 requiring transparency in pricing. In the meantime, patients should always ask for a ‘bundled price’ which is another way of saying ‘all-inclusive’. If you want to be sure you are getting an ‘all-inclusive’ price for your surgery, call us at Texas Medical Management. We publish 100+ bundled surgeries on our website, TexasMedicalManagement.com, and we have another 300+ bundles we have created with our quality surgeon and facility partners. There are other providers around the country who publish their bundled surgery prices, one place to find them is the Free Market Medical Association website, FMMA.org.
Surgeons in Texas
Finding board-certified surgeons and accredited facilities is not hard to do, as most surgeons practicing and surgery facilities fulfill those requirements. That begs the question, how do you find the quality providers in a crowded marketplace? The answer – come to Texas Medical Management where our surgeon CEO and board of directors have vetted and personally interviewed each and every surgeon and facility prior to partnering with our company. We offer competitive surgery prices for quality services for orthopedic, general surgery, ENT, gynecological surgery, spine surgery, urology, ophthalmology, reconstruction surgery, pain and much more. Schedule an appointment with us today.