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7 Tips for Better Benchmarking at ASCs

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Here are seven tips for better benchmarking at ASCs.

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1. Pick the most important metrics for your center's improvement. ASC administrators are faced with a barrage of benchmarks on a daily basis and are constantly examining data points in different ways. Examine the different metrics you collect and choose which ones are most urgent for the center to address. For example, tracking income per minute is largely useless because of the surgery center's economy of sale.When choosing your areas for improvement, make sure they are appropriate for measuring. "We believe strongly that if it's important, you have to measure it," says Jeff Leland, CEO of Blue Chip Surgical Partners. "Identify the half-dozen benchmarks that you really want to keep track of. The most important thing is to measure them."

2. Have a clear goal to reach. Once you've selected a few key metrics and benchmarked your center against other similar centers, define a clear pathway for your center to meet that goal, says John R. Seitz, president and CEO of ManageMyASC, and Tamar Glaser, RN, of ManageMyASC.com. For example, if you want to reduce costs associated with overtime, make the rule that employees can't take more than 30 hours of overtime per pay period. If you are trying to up your collects, set a goal of $830,000 per month. If you want to increase case volume, define a goal of 550 cases per month, depending on your center.

"If you have cases running late, you should look at causes such as room turnover time or physicians arriving late for the procedure or the prior case just took more time to complete," says says Steve Whitmore, vice president of corporate services of Symbion. "These factors affect nursing hours per case which correlates to financial benchmarks being missed"

3. Think about the comprehensive budget. Administrators and board members must think about the budget 360 degrees three-dimensionally. This means knowing where you are going and how to get there. Consider physician succession plans, budgets and ownership going forward. "The budget is a function of the report, not an end to itself," said Raj Chopra of The C/N Group. "Adapt your budget, revisit it on a quarterly basis. Talk to nurses, vendors and others to see where the savings and potential rising numbers are for the future."

4. Make an action plan for improvement. Decide how you will improve costs per case for the next six months, says Ann O'Neill, RN, MBA/HCM, director of clinical operations for Regent Surgical Health. In order to assess the efficacy of your methods, use one method of improvement per benchmarking period. For example, ask your nurses to be hyper-vigilant about not opening packs until the surgeon asks for a supply, and see how that action affects costs per case. Then implement the plan and ensure that everyone understands and is compliant with the change.

5. Evaluate your plan's success by re-measuring, then re-tweak as needed. Using the same method as before, re-measure costs per case for the second six-month period and compare to your first benchmarking period, says Ms. O'Neill. Look to see if your new process still has gaps that could be closed and address them.

6. Use software to help keep track.
Tim Meakem, MD, medical director of ProVation Medical, says that the pressure is mounting for external benchmarking, and that most ASCs are competing against someone else in their market. Also, private reporting initiatives have begun to go online, meaning patients can compare ASC scores easily. All of this makes effective benchmarking increasingly important. Replacing manual processes with built-in decision support tools help with benchmarking collecting accurate data. It can lead to ongoing commitment to quality and raise the bar for physicians. "Everyone says it's hard to change physicians," says Dr. Meakem. "But it is not hard if you have high-quality numbers. Physicians do not want to be the outlying person."

7. Track key operational metrics for measurable success. It's important to properly report and track key operational metrics of your business. "You can't manage what you can't measure," says Nader Samii, CEO of National Medical Billing Services. "In our business, we track these metrics so we can tell whether there are people who are behind and find a solution for the problem. It's critical for people to live by their metrics."

More Articles on Surgery Center Benchmarks:
20 Statistics on Physician Compensation for 5 Key Surgery Center Specialties

20 New Statistics on Surgery Center Staffing Costs

16 New Statistics on Surgery Center EBIDTA

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