The Surgery Center at Tanasbourne in Hillsboro, Ore., is a joint venture between 10 physician owners, Providence Health & Services and Blue Chip Surgery Center Partners.
James Kamps, RN, MBA, CNOR, has served as the center's administrator for about a year, previously serving as the administrator of a smaller, non-joint venture ASC. Mr. Kamps offers his perspective on being an administrator of a joint venture surgery center.
1. Be prepared to work with people from each of the different parties. At the Surgery Center at Tanasbourne the board is represented by the physician owners, three people from Providence and at least one person from Blue Chip. The center currently has 10 physician owners, but just made an offering and expects that number to rise to 15 in the near future.
Before joining his current center, Mr. Kamps was the administrator of a center with just five physician owners. "The great thing about that is you can talk to all five of them in a week face to face or by email, or even a couple of phone calls," says Mr. Kamps. Decisions can be made quickly. Here, Mr. Kamps has many more people he must reach in order to reach a decision. There are twice as many physician owners, a contact at Blue Chip and any number of people in Providence, the largest health system in Oregon.
2. Use the resources that come with a management company. A management company offers surgery centers support in nearly every aspect of operation. "When it comes to compliance, I just call Blue Chip's AAAHC guru with a question and get an immediate answer," says Mr. Kamps. In his experience Blue Chip has moved quickly to help shoulder the responsibility of running the surgery center.
During his time at the former center, Mr. Kamps would arrive at 6 a.m. and leave at 7 or 8 p.m. at night. Now he arrives at 7:30 a.m. and leaves in the early evening. "A management company walks you through everything. Whatever it is, they have a policy in place or the experience to make things happen," says Mr. Kamps. "Having a management company makes my job easier."
Since management companies offer surgery centers established protocols and shared responsibility, administrators have more time to hone in on the most important aspects of their job instead of trying to manage everything at once. "There is a lot less stress and a lot more time to worry about issues like physician relations and vendors. I am doing what I am here to do," says Mr. Kamps.
3. Understand the benefits and challenges of being a part of a larger health system. Surgery centers are small entities in the vast world of healthcare. Hospitals and health systems wield a significant amount of power. As an extension of a larger entity, surgery centers can take advantage of this. "Providence is so large, they have great vendor relations. We are an entity of Providence and as a result negotiations are less of a battle, than they would be in a freestanding facility," says Mr. Kamps.
While surgery centers can benefit from the advantages of a large partner, administrators will come to see that size is not indicative of speed. "To make any kind of change, there are a lot of people to go through on the Providence side," says Mr. Kamps. With so many people and different committees involved, the process is not a rapid one.
4. Form a long-term strategy. As administrators realize change requires time, it will become clear that short-term thinking is not the optimal strategy. "Look a year out, rather than the short term," says Mr. Kamps. Introduce changes far in advance, allowing ample time for implementation. In the long run, well-thought out strategies will always benefit surgery centers.
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