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5 Ideas on More Productive ASC Board Meetings

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Management TeamHere are five ideas on how to make ambulatory surgery center board meetings more productive.


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1. Communicate agenda and prior minutes in advance.
At least one to three days in advance, send the minutes from the prior meeting and the current agenda, says Paul Skowron, senior vice president, operations at Regent Surgical Health. Hospital partners especially expect advance notice of agenda items and a reminder of tasks to complete in order to provide time to develop or finalize a position on any material issues (e.g., valuation of shares, increase in debt financing for expansion).

Whether the meetings are monthly or quarterly, select the same day and time for each meeting that best meets the needs of the members. This promotes regular attendance. Distribute the meeting dates for an entire year in advance. Early morning meetings are effective where possible due to the need of surgeons to leave on time and get to the next appointment or surgery, thus avoiding longwinded dissertations. Call or email each member one week in advance as a courtesy reminder.

2. Focus on data in board meetings.
Information disseminated at board meetings should be concise and data-driven, just like any other correspondence. You can include benchmarking data with monthly comparisons, yearly comparisons and projections for the future.

"We tend to use quarterly reports comparing month to month data as well as year to year," says Mary Sturm, senior vice president of clinical operations at Surgical Management Professionals. "It is a quick snap shot of how the surgery center is doing. It doesn't require the surgeon to look through pages of financial data to try to connect the dots; it connects the dots for them."

Treat the board meetings like an annual shareholder's meeting and use graphs or charts to retain interest when presenting poignant information.

3. Share data with physicians as news briefs.
When including physicians in the decision-making process, administrators should share practice data, such as financial statistics or patient evaluations, with physicians using a "Presidential" brief form. Physicians like and enjoy data but they don't want to be overwhelmed by it, so if you give physicians the facts in a brief and concise way and then give them a recommendation as to what course of action they should take, they are more likely to support your decision-making as an administrator.

Additionally, when the administrator provides a synthesized report about a potential change in the practice, it shows that the administrator is able to competently research the topic and is coming to them with a realistic and valid request.

4. Take the time to educate and motivate surgeon partners.
Physician involvement is one of the easiest ways to improve profitability, says Connie Casey, administrator of highly profitable Northpoint Surgery and Laser Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. For example, when she realized medical supply costs were increasing, she printed out preference cards for all her orthopedic physicians and presented them at the board meeting.

"One doctor would be opening two shaver tips and another would be opening one," she says. "One would be using four anchors and one would be using two. They had absolutely no idea how much money they were spending." She says to save money, the administrator has to educate his or her physicians and get them involved in surgery center operations.

5. Avoid meetings within meetings.
Be realistic about what can be accomplished within an hour, says Mr. Skowron. Do not attempt to convene a separate committee meeting or medical executive committee meeting within the confines of the board meeting. The results of those meetings should be presented to the board and/or signatures required should be presented with the proper documentation to support.

It is usually easier for a managing partner rather than the administrator to truncate conversations or dissertations by impassioned members who feel strongly about their agenda item. Conclusions for the minutes must be drawn and the meeting must move on in order to address all the agenda items on time.

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