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5 Strategies for ASC Physician Recruitment Next Year

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DoctorAmbulatory surgery center administrators and experts discuss some of the best ideas for bringing in new physicians.

1. Focus on the best prospects in your area. There are several ways surgery center owners and operators can attract new physicians, whether they make recruitment an ongoing process or have a specific hole to fill. While working with physician recruitment firms or networking among current center physicians is often beneficial, a few other strategies include:

•    Target surgeons who leave hospital employment;
•    Continue courting physicians from large private practices, even if they've turned you down in the past;
•    Join state medical societies and network with physicians there;
•    Work with a physician liaison to promote the ASC with a specialist's office staff or practice managers;
•    Build a reputation in the community — patients will ask for their procedures at the center and soon specialists will become interested as well.

Unique or memorable customer service practices can build patient loyalty and boost the center's reputation, says Dale Rothenberg, executive vice president and partner of DoctorsManagement. "One doctor told me about a surgery center where they were doing biopsies on women for breast cancer, and the administrator made it his duty to give a rose to women after the procedure," he says. "Women in that town didn't want to go anyplace else."

2. Emphasize a lack of bureaucratic obstacles. Many surgery center physicians choose ASC investment or participation because of the freedom it affords them in making decisions and pushing through initiatives. In a hospital, a physician may have to deal with a number of policies or committees before receiving approval for a piece of equipment, for example. In a surgery center, such a decision can often be made through a conversation with the administrator.

Kris Sabo, executive director of Pend Oreille Surgery Center in Ponderay, Idaho, said administrators should emphasize the stress-free nature of the ASC when recruiting new investors. "On the provider side, they're focused on the patient, and they don't want to have to worry about what's next," she said.

She gives the example of keeping physician preference cards updated. Instead of talking to the physician about updating his or her preference cards, talk to a trusted member of his or her office staff and make sure the listed supplies are up-to-date. Let potential physicians know that they won't have to deal with bureaucratic struggles in your ASC because you will treat them as a customer.

3. Involve the whole staff. Jenny Morris, administrator of Stateline Surgery Center in Galena, Kan., involves her whole staff in the recruitment process.

"It does pay to make calls to the surgeon's office or pay a lunch visit to a prospective surgeon's office. I schedule lunch with the entire staff (you need their help to get credentials, preferences, etc.) and take my director of nursing along to answer any clinical questions that are outside my scope of knowledge," says Ms. Morris.

Surgeons are able to become familiar with a surgery center's leadership and staff all before even entering the facility. Once surgeons are in the door, they can begin to see the benefits of performing cases at the surgery center.

4. Offer to make concessions. Approaching the physician recruitment process with a "customer service" mindset is important in distinguishing oneself from a competing center, and this includes a willingness to make concessions to satisfy the physician.  

Once a physician's preferences and concerns are on the table, it's up to the center to weigh the cost of accommodating a physician against the revenue that his or her cases will bring to the center. If an ENT surgeon expresses a preference for a certain type of ear tubes, for example, the center is typically willing to purchase that product in order to bring the physician in.

The act of accommodating a physician often requires significantly less effort than the benefits it reaps. By spending some money to accommodate a new physician, the surgery center can increase profit through additional case volume and build physician loyalty.   

5. Follow up with the candidate. Surgery center partners should all be in agreement about bringing a new physician into the center, says Joan Shearer, administrator of Lawrence (Kan.) Surgery Center. After the site visit, follow up with the candidate to see if he or she expresses interest in joining the center.

Once you follow up with the physician, determine if a second follow-up visit is needed. If the physician is deciding between multiple facilities, he or she may want to narrow down the top choices and then re-visit the facilities.

More Articles on Surgery Centers:
10 Recent Ambulatory Surgery Center Plans, Openings & Expansions

6 Statistics on Surgery Center Case Volume Based on Net Revenue

7 Ways to Approach ASC Physician Preference Item Management Without Sacrificing Physician Satisfaction


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