How ASCs Can Build Process Improvement and Lean Principles Into BillingAt the 10th Annual Orthopedic, Spine and Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference in Chicago on June 15, 2012, Bill Gilbert, vice president of marketing for AdvantEdge Healthcare Solutions, explained how process improvement techniques — better known as Lean processes — can be used within an ambulatory surgery center to improve profits and the billing process.
Mr. Gilbert said for an ASC to improve its billing and collections departments, it first must look at the four main components of the "Deming cycle," named after W. Edwards Deming, who was the innovator of Lean principles and total quality management. The four main components are "plan, do, check and act."
The planning stage involves identifying a key business problem to solve. For example, the days in accounts receivable may be too high. Mr. Gilbert said ASC administrators and billing managers must ask themselves which processes are the root causes for the problems and then get everyone involved to achieve the same goal: lowering A/R days.
From there, ASCs can "do" a trial, in this instance a process improvement plan with a goal in mind (perhaps to reduce inaccurate insurance logging by 40 percent). At the end of the trial, ASCs should then "check" to see how they performed and what led to the final results. From there, ASCs should "act" on the results and make any permanent changes to the billing process that weed out the waste.
Mr. Gilbert says something as simple as Lean could yield noticeable results for any ASC function, particularly in the billing process because of all the paperwork and waste that is involved. "It's not rocket science," Mr. Gilbert said. "It's a great way to make improvements in the organization, and if done right, it actually energizes the organization."
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