Physician investment in an ambulatory surgery center — financially and otherwise — is critically important for survival in the future.
For continued growth in today's market, ASC administrators and owners are looking for new ways their physicians can bring in business:
• Prospecting new physicians in the market
• Leading discussions with partners to ensure all appropriate cases are performed at the center
• Exploring carve-outs and narrow networks with payers for volume growth
"Surgeons should take every opportunity to market themselves to their referral sources and their patients," says Winborne Macphail, senior vice president of sales and market development at Surgical Care Affiliates. "Simple tactics that can occur during the normal course of the day include implementing internal marketing and patient satisfaction programs with their practices and ensuring highly satisfied patients who in turn will recommend their friends."
The physicians also have access to a wide network of peers — both primary care and specialist physicians — as well as hospitalists and vendors to generate new patient opportunities. These professionals have the ability to influence new patient referrals and a personal as well as professional relationship can go a long way to optimizing that referral base.
"A key role of an ASC operator is to create a growth culture for their surgeons," says Ms. Macphail. "This should include holding regular growth planning sessions as part of the physician partnership meetings and engaging physician champions. Gain commitments to implement action steps and utilize a simple financial summary that shows them the benefits of their actions on the center's performance and their investment if new growth occurs."
ASC owners can establish a monthly operating review to monitor and track trends in:
• Case volume growth
• Specialty mix
"Trend reviews should include not only where they stand against their current year operating plan, but also how they are growing year-over-year, what new physicians or growth opportunities do they actively have in their pipeline and what risk factors — such as dissatisfied or retired physicians — could be on the horizon that they must plan to mitigate," says Ms. Macphail. "One of the largest areas of opportunity for ASCs is in the orthopedic and spine market. Payers are gaining recognition of the cost of these procedures in a traditional hospital setting and the majority of procedures within these specialties can be performed in an ASC with proper planning and thorough patient selection process."
However, the most efficient way to attract new patients is the old standby: building a reputation for quality care.
"The biggest return on the surgeons' investment is the commitment they make to quality, efficiency, service and compassionate care, which creates a highly reputable and recommendable practice," says Ms. Macphail.
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