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ASC Schedules, Staffing & Supply Costs: Strategies to Eliminate Inefficiencies From ASCOA CEO Luke Lambert

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Luke LambertAmbulatory Surgical Centers of America CEO Luke Lambert talks about common inefficiencies for ambulatory surgery centers and the best opportunities to save time and money next year.

Question: What are the most common inefficiencies for ASCs today and how can administrators eliminate them?  

Luke Lambert: Low density scheduling. If every surgeon wants a 7:30 am start time and no one wants to operate in the afternoon it's hard to realize the staffing efficiency that today's reimbursements require. Whether a center does 10 cases in a day or 30 cases the staffing costs aren't likely to vary a lot if they're spread out over the day. Greater throughput for every day that the center is open leads to greater revenue but little increase in labor costs.

Q: What are the best practices for maximizing the ASC's schedule?  

LL: Minimize down time between physicians. Avoid opening a day for a small number of cases. Higher surgical schedule densities lead to lower labors costs per case and per unit of revenue.

Q: Where are the best opportunities for ASCs to control staffing and supply costs next year?  

LL: Take the opportunity at the start of the year to review schedules and utilization and convene a discussion with your physicians around how the schedule can be optimized.  Do a review of your supply costs and ensure that your distributor is properly providing the pricing that you're contracted for under your GPO.  

Consult with your suppliers about product substitutions, look at alternative suppliers and analyze whether your custom packs are delivering your best value.  Sometimes merely asking for better pricing or more cost efficient solutions can deliver significant savings.

Q: How can ASCs make sure they collect patient deductibles, especially for those with high deductible plans?  

LL: Inform your patients of what their financial responsibilities are well in advance of surgery so that it can be paid on or before surgery. Have a relationship with a vendor that can finance those of your patients who can't otherwise make their payments.

Q: What are the best practices for ASCs to succeed with benchmarking next year?  

LL: Take methodical approach and discuss with other centers how they may be able to do things better, faster or cheaper.  If you're friendly with other centers, visit them and see how they do things.

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