5 Critical Benchmarking Steps for Surgery Centers
Modern software can make collecting data and analyzing trends much easier than in the past. Additionally, physicians and surgery centers have been seeing a trend toward more focus on patient satisfaction and outcomes than in the past, especially as patients are encouraged to "shop" for doctors and rate their experience with physicians online.
"It's important as a responsible business owner to be actively monitoring and improving those statistics," said Ms. Raskin. Here are the critical benchmarking steps for ASCs:
1. Determine what to benchmark. The benchmarks you measure should be a meaningful part of your overall strategy for success. "Make sure your strategy is determining the data you collect for benchmarking; not the other way around," said Ms. Raskin. "Make sure you have also considered your ability to move the needle. A specialty eye center, for example, may be unable to do much about its payor mix, but have a lot of opportunity in its supply costs."
Profitably per minute, profitability per case, and patient satisfaction are a few examples of impactful benchmarks for your center.
2. Identify key drivers. Understand the key drivers of case profitability at the surgery center to make sure each case is profitable. Examine what levers (supplies, labor and reimbursement) you can pull to optimize each case. High-cost and high-volume case types are typically great places to begin.
"Identify key drivers," said Ms. Raskin. "Illustrate physician averages along each of those key drivers and benchmark them against others in your center or across your portfolio. You will almost certainly find a great deal of variability, and where there is variability, there is opportunity."
3. Measure your own performance. Look at every physician's benchmarks relative to their best achievable reference point. Combine the highest average payment with the lowest average supply and labor costs and that becomes the target amount for each physician. This approach allows you also to quantify the total opportunity if each physician achieves that optimal performance benchmark. "Our goal is to create a culture of continuous improvement. Keeping everyone oriented around the big picture is really important," said Ms. Raskin.
4. Develop strategies for improvement. Look at your payor contracts, labor costs and supplies to see not just where, but how you can make improvements. Sometimes, the strategy you identify might prove infeasible; perhaps a lower cost supply is deemed clinically inferior. In that case, look to another lever for alternative or additional improvements. Payors, for example, are increasingly receptive to data evidencing unsustainable profit profiles and supply vendors are often more accommodating when their physician utilizers are engaged in negotiations.
"You can put numbers and averages in front of the physician all day, but you need to know what is driving variability," said Ms. Raskin. "If a physician is using branded antibiotics, see if there is a lower cost generic option available. Let the physician decide whether they are clinically the same. Present the information and empower physicians to make that choice."
5. Implement strategies and monitor results. Don't spend too much time pouring over data before you decide to present a strategy. "All you need is enough information to have a conversation," said Ms. Raskin. "Spend 15 percent of your time determining what to collect, 25 percent collecting the actual data, and 60 percent talking about what you found."
Eliminate "noise" from the analysis by breaking down the biggest impact items. For example, unpack your surgical packs alongside the physicians that use them. Separate three to five high cost items to discuss separately. Then, invite the physicians to sift through the remainder to see if there is anything they don't need. While the items they are not using might be inexpensive, they still take time and energy to unpack and dispose of.
"Standardize where possible and renegotiate," said Ms. Raskin. "In one recent investigation, we ended up saving $40 per pack."
More Articles on Surgery Centers:
6 Tips for Proper Housekeeping in an Ambulatory Surgery Center
ASCs: 3 Trends to Watch in the Future
10 Things to know About Financing for ASCs
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