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Achieve Seamless ASC Staff & Schedule Operations: 4 Essentials From Administrator Nicole Vit

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Nicole Vit, RN, BSN, MPH, administrator of the Plastic Surgery Center of Westchester (N.Y.), elaborates on four actions to take to eliminate ambulatory surgery center staff and scheduling inefficiencies.  

1. Identify a strong core staff. ASC surgical schedules vary from day-to-day, week-to-week. "The best way to mediate fluctuations in volume is to begin with a strong core staff who understands both the culture and daily flow of the surgery center," says Ms. Vit. Beyond the strong foundation of a regular, reliable group of employees, staffing strategies include:

•    Cross training staff: PACU to operating room, CPD to surgical tech (as state law allows)
•    Creating a flexible schedule policy: ensure staff members are prepared to fill in on unexpected sick days or surgery schedule additions
•    Hiring per diem staff: any gaps that cannot be filled by regular staff members can be addressed through as-needed employees

2. Benchmark FTEs and per diem staff. Having the necessary people prepared to support efficient ASC operations is the first step in effective staffing, but equally important is monitoring utilization of those people. Does the number of FTEs and per diem staff match surgical case volume? Efficient surgery center leaders will internally benchmark these numbers each month. "It is important to know your baseline and be able to recognize when there are fluctuations from the norm," says Ms. Vit. An established baseline allows administrators to course correct when any budding inefficiencies become apparent.

3. Track surgical procedure time. ASC case volume directly correlates to revenue; misjudgment of time is a costly inefficiency. "It is a common mistake to allow surgical schedulers and surgeons to dictate the amount of time that is allocated for a certain surgical procedure without reviewing it first," says Ms. Vit.

Accurate block times are rooted in data specific to each facility. "Gather timing data on a regular basis for each surgical procedure, so you know about how long, on average, each surgical case should take. Numbers never lie," she says. Strong data allows administrators to keep tabs on the number of surgical procedures each surgeon can be expected to perform in a day.

4. Utilize staff and industry resources. At the Plastic Surgery Center of Westchester, a staff-led timing project evolved into a larger quality assurance study. The combined efforts of the center's staff members generated a way to further reduce inefficiency.   

Looking outside of the four walls of a center can lend fresh perspective. "You do not live in a silo. Network with your colleagues in the industry," says Ms. Vit. "There is no need to recreate the wheel if someone else has a great idea that they are willing to share."  

More Articles on ASC Efficiency:
ASC Start Times: Many Begin Within 7 Minutes of Scheduled Time
Cut Costs With Better Staff Management: 5 Best Ideas
8 Tactics to Boost ASC Patient Volume in Competitive Markets

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