Though Stanford Health Care initially included a cognitive screening, that aspect was ditched the following year because of disagreement over whether it was a strong indicator of performance. Instead, they bolstered the peer-review process and now seek feedback from eight to 10 of the practitioner's colleagues. To gather, assimilate and review all that data is also “logistically very time-consuming,” Weinacker added.
LifeBridge Health's aging-surgeons program takes two days. Practitioners can travel from anywhere in the country to voluntarily participate, or it can be recommended for a surgeon by leadership. The mere recommendation can be infuriating for long-time practitioners. “At least half a dozen surgeons voluntarily retired when threatened with our program, rather than go through it,” Katlic said.
That particular program also comes with a hefty $17,000 price tag. “There is absolutely a financial burden,” said Harris, the surgical chief at Englewood Hospital. That facility's surgeon, Dardik, reluctantly became the first (and so far, the only) Englewood physician to go through LifeBridge's aging-surgeon program launched two years ago.
However, Harris says it was worth the investment.
Dardik did well on the exam, allaying any concerns that his physical and cognitive health might be a patient safety concern. He did recently decide to shift some of his responsibilities and now spends more time on training and education with another physician taking the role of chief of vascular surgery.
Dardik also became an advocate who encourages his colleagues to consider it. That ultimately saved Harris from potentially losing a swim-off with his now 80-year-old counterpart.
“I was not going to take that bait,” Harris said. “He swims every day, and there's no way I was going to be able to keep up with him.”