Member Spotlight: Matrix Anesthesia

Matrix Anesthesia CEO Moves Group to Impact Care for Many

Nearly everyone enters medicine with a passion to care for others, but sometimes that passion extends to improving care across entire populations.

So it was for Sean Kincaid, MD, who found himself drawn to leadership after his anesthesiology practice group merged with another in 2009, linking anesthesiologists at Overlake and Evergreen medical centers in a group now known as Matrix Anesthesia. Matrix continues to provide care at Evergreen and Overlake, as well as for surgery centers and medical offices throughout Kirkland, Bellevue, and elsewhere in the Seattle area’s Eastside.

“I was intrigued by an opportunity to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” Kincaid says. “In anesthesia, you care for one patient at time, and that’s very rewarding. But when you are in leadership of a medical group and you move it in the right direction, from both a business and a clinical standpoint, it benefits all. That’s what drew me to it.”

Today, Kincaid is in his fifth year as CEO for Matrix. He’s served on the board since Matrix’s inception, beginning as board secretary. “I was simultaneously involved in the Washington State Society of Anesthesiologists,” he says. “I served as its president and on the board for many years, basically for similar reasons as to why I’m in leadership at Matrix—you can move an organization in the right direction to impact care for a lot of patients.

That’s very satisfying.” With more than 60 physicians and several nurse anesthetists, Matrix is one of the larger anesthesia groups in Puget Sound, and Kincaid enjoys the huge variety of care it provides, from anesthesia for complex, lengthy hospital-based neurosurgeries, to surgery centers for things such as simpler cosmetic or sports medicine procedures. Kincaid, a native of Lynnwood, Washington, attended college and medical school in Texas.

Almost right away he discovered the place in medicine he wanted to be. “I knew I liked the operating room environment—it’s a very dynamic environment. But I didn’t find that pursuing surgery suited my personality; anesthesia really did. It’s fun.It’s a lot of hands-on patient care, which is very satisfying.

“So, after a general surgery internship, I transitioned to anesthesia. I was mentored by a very well-respected neuroanesthesiologist, and then went on to a critical-care fellowship and a neuroanesthesia fellowship.”

Prior to his current job, Kincaid worked at Harborview Medical Center, as well as on the faculty at the University of Washington School of Medicine, splitting his time between the operating room and neurosurgical critical care.

“When I came to Evergreen I was initially just doing anesthesia, but then I began to fill in at the ICU when they needed an intensivist,” he says. Matrix is an early adopter of a perioperative surgical home model, Kincaid says. It is modeled after the patient-centered medical home model where the primary care provider stands in the center of patient care, acting as a quarterback directing all services. Similarly, in the perioperative surgical home model, anesthesiologists lead team-based care from the time a patient enters the hospital or day-surgery care or result in readmissions. We want to make sure we have the necessary and most effective processes in place for surgery. That’s been a big focus for us—more process-oriented care, rather than individualized, clinician-dependent care. We want standard expectations, for example, on what the best practice is for managing the diabetic surgical patient, to make sure we provide the right medical care. And we want good process for care transition if we hand off a medically complex patient to a hospitalist or intensivist following surgery.”

One challenging issue for Matrix is how to efficiently integrate all sizes of business clients into their model. “I think the challenge for us is how do we serve the niche, boutique services, like smaller surgery centers or cosmetic surgery practices?” he says. “Where do they fit into our business?”

Matrix does well at understanding the many masters it serves, Kincaid believes.

“I do think Matrix does a good job of recognizing that we have several customers. One is providing great care to patients, but also providing a good service to the surgeon and to the hospital or facility where we are at. I think we are definitely a service industry.”

Which brings up another challenge: demonstrating that excellence. “I think the very biggest challenge we face right now is really figuring out how to show we provide great clinical care. I think we all know we are a big group of very skilled clinicians. But increasingly, we need to demonstrate that. We need to have the infrastructure in place to show what our rate of post-surgery nausea is, or the rate of unintended ICU admission. Things like that can be hard to quantify, but increasingly we are practicing in an environment in which payers, either the government or private insurers, want to know these things.

“Certainly, in the near future, we will look at alternative payment models and how to participate in bundled care. We are trying to anticipate where it will all go in the future.”

He does get out from the boardroom and the operating room: “I’m married and have two young kids—an 8-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son—and we love to travel. We love to spend time on the water when the sun is out.”

And his family has thrown a happy disruption into their lives: “We just adopted a puppy, a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon named Sako. We just picked him up a week ago, and he’s chewing on everything.”