The ambulatory surgery center industry has seen rapid growth over the past several years. While some areas of the country maybe experiencing a slowdown, others are not. In fact, in some cities it seems as if ASCs are popping up on nearly every corner.
While growth is good for the industry, it also creates competition. As a result, many ASCs are finding it difficult to retain surgeons and successfully recruit new ones, a necessity to maintain steady patient and cash flows. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that ensuring surgeon satisfaction is essential to the success of an ASC.
Mission Surgery Center in Mission Viejo, Calif., has spent considerable time and thought investing in physician relationships to ensure working with the center is both easy and financially lucrative. Below is a sample of some of things that Mission Surgery Center is doing to create a positive environment for its surgeons:
1. Minimize staff turnover. A surgery center should be an enjoyable place for staff to work, otherwise facilities run the risk of staff turnover. Having staff with longevity means they understand how a center operates and that they are familiar with the surgeons. This is very important as staff learn to anticipate the needs of surgeons they frequently assist. This creates a pleasant experience for surgeons while ensuring procedures run more smoothly. It can also reduce the time a patient spends in the OR, which in turn shortens their recovery and makes room for additional surgeries.
For centers with high turnover or for those that rely heavily on per diem staff, needless delays and a less-than-desirable physician experience are not uncommon, as staff are more likely to require additional direction because of their unfamiliarity with the center and its surgeons.
2. Focus on efficiency. Centers that operate efficiently are able to significantly speed turnover times, thus making surgeons more productive. A well-oiled center will make it easy for doctors to get in, perform their surgeries, and get back to their office to attend to additional patients. In addition to keeping physicians happy, there are the obvious financial benefits associated with keeping surgeries running on-time (both for the center and the physician). Technology can play an important role in streamlining and simplifying processes to ensure things run smoothly.
Using SourceMedical’s Vision software, Mission Surgery Center has streamlined many traditionally time-consuming processes for it surgeons. For example, transcriptions are significantly easier and faster when using the OpNotes bundle. Surgeons were able to customize templates to make them more specific to their procedures, and with access to OpNotes from their laptop, surgeons can revise the templates as needed and sign-off on cases in real-time from the recovery room or from their office. Cases are billed much quicker and less time and effort is required from the surgeon.
3. Listen to physicians. Unfortunately, no matter how hard centers try, at some point issues will occur. When they do, physicians want to know they are heard and that something is being done to address their concerns. It is essential that a center puts policies in place that ensure surgeons' requests are elevated to the appropriate level in a timely manner. When issues arise or requests are made, staff should have a go-to person such as the center's clinical director or other designated person who is responsible for following up with the physician as quickly as possible to discuss a resolution or to provide an explanation or next step. Otherwise, if physicians feel their needs are not being met, they will likely take their business to a center that will meet their needs.
Mission Surgery Center has an operational committee that meets once a month to review and address requests and/or issues that don’t require immediate attention. The goal is to make sure surgeons have all they need to perform their surgeries safely and efficiently, and that they remain happy. After all, a surgery center is an extension of a physician’s office and a patient’s experience reflects both on the ASC and the physician.
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