Here are 10 roadblocks that can make ambulatory surgery center board meetings inefficient.
1. The agenda isn't sent out before the meeting. Regent Surgical Health Senior Vice President, Operations Paul Skowron recommends sending out minutes from the prior meeting and an agenda for the upcoming meeting three days in advance, especially if you have a hospital partner on the board.
2. Scheduling meetings haphazardly. If the meeting is on a different day every quarter or month, board members may have conflicts or forget to attend. Scheduling the meetings for the same day — such as the 15th of every month — or time period — such as the third Monday of the month or last day of the quarter makes it easy to predict and more likely board members will be available during those times.
3. Holding afternoon or evening meetings. Board members may not be on time for meetings later in the day and these meetings are more likely to run over time. Early morning meetings catch board members before they begin seeing patients and keep the meetings short and to-the-point because surgeons must leave on time to meet other obligations.
4. Distributing written summaries about the state of the ASC. Instead of writing summaries about the ASC's previous quarter, give board members concise benchmarking data and hard numbers to analyze, says Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations at Surgical Management Professionals Mary Strum. Surgeons can quickly interpret this data and ask questions during the meeting.
5. Unprepared administrators. Administrators may bring up a recent change in the ASC to discuss with board members or investors. If they haven't researched the topic, they will be unprepared to answer surgeon questions and the meeting will be unproductive. Administrators can give surgeons a brief statement on why the change was made with researched supporting evidence and surgeons will have more confidence in the administrator's decisions.
6. Conducting meetings within meetings. Be realistic about what can be accomplished during the board meetings and don't try to convene separate committee meetings during that time.
7. Allowing comments without moderation. Without a moderator, board members or others invited to attend the meetings could begin impassioned speeches, discussions or "dissertations" on a topic, wasting the board's time. It's easier for a managing partner to fill the role of moderator than the administrator, says Mr. Skowron. The moderator is tasked with truncating the conversation to address all agenda items.
8. Dealing with small conflicts. Don't deal with small conflicts between surgeons at the board meetings and avoid letting them hijack the conversation. Michael Port, MD, Medical Director and Anesthesiologist at DISC Sports & Spine Center in Marina del Rey, Fla., suggests putting a process in place to deal with conflicts at the micro level. DISC has a head nurse and COO who coordinate different disciplines in the center when issues arise.
9. Talking without visuals. Successful board meetings motivate surgeons to take pride in the ASC and make the center better. However, they won't be successful if you can't keep the surgeons' attention. Ms. Sturm suggests treating the board meetings like annual shareholders' meeting with charts and grafts to retain interest when presenting information. In some cases, comparing surgeon data — even blinding the data — can glean surgeons' competitive interest in closing the gaps.
10. Poorly recorded minutes. If minutes are poorly recorded, the board spends valuable time at the next meeting trying to remember what was decided in the last meeting before moving ahead. Lack of clarity in minutes could also lead to accreditation difficulties. Clear and concise minutes allow meetings to begin where they left off the last time.
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