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Cut Costs With Better Staff Management: 5 Best Ideas

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Here are five best ideas for ambulatory surgery center administrators to cut costs with better staff management.

1. Benchmark and reduce staff hours per case. When your center goes beyond the benchmarks, bring the physician investors and entire governing body together to discuss strategies for reduction. This could mean more compact scheduling, part-time employees, flex hours or process changes at the ASC.

"It's great to have a bunch of employees at the ASC, but when each additional employee costs $80,000 out of the physician's pocket, it's time to pay more attention to staffing," says Founding Partner of ASD Management Joe Zasa. "Embrace a collaborative approach to staffing with proper checks and balances, use benchmarks and set realistic goals for managers. These strategies allow your center to be more efficient without diminishing the quality of care."

2. Automated timekeeping and payroll integration. An ASC with 20 fulltime employees can waste five hours each day using a non-automated timekeeping system. The electronic, automated timekeeping and payroll system that is a function of HRIS can save up to $25,000 per year. Employees can see the amount of paid time off, sick time and vacation time they have available and already used on their employee access portal. They can also request time off, information which is safely stored in the system.

"Once an employee's time off has been recognized by the supervisors, the employee receives an email either approving or denying the requested time off," says MedHQ Executive Director of Human Resources, John Merski Jr. "It also tracks PTO history, so administrators know if an employee called in six times in the last year because of the death of the same pet."

3. Embrace the working manager role. ASC administrators should manage the center efficiently but also work to fill in other roles where needed; the manager just can't delegate to other employees. There must be a balance between clinical and administrative duties. Remember, the manager should not hire people to do their job. If so, the result is an $80,000 reduction in income per employee.

"Cross training is an obvious way to effectively reduce your costs," says Mr. Zasa. "We believe [staffing goals] are easily achievable if our administrators embrace the working manager model instead of hiring additional employees."

4. Improve training and mentoring. Appropriate training and mentoring is key to reducing HR costs. One common issue is appointing a supervisor with poor or no training, which can cause difficult internal issues. Supervisors need to train employees in customer service, as patient satisfaction can affect performance and revenue. In addition, supervisors should cross train all employees so that when someone is on vacation or on sick leave, another employee can fill in effectively.

Employers also need to have a strategy for disciplining employees. When a surgery center is considering suspending or terminating an employee, MedHQ holds a disciplinary conference. In the conference, the supervisor presents the issue to a third party and the employee has the opportunity to respond. Then, a report is given to the supervisor to determine a strategy that can mitigate the problem. Having an objective, third party can help supervisors identify the root cause of the problem and work with the employee to fix it, Mr. Merski says.

5. Automate processes. Another HR cost-saving strategy is automating manual processes. Providing an employee portal can help streamline processes related to requests for paid time off and tuition reimbursement, tax forms and complaints. In addition, digitizing documents such as employee handbooks can eliminate copying costs.

These five strategies can save surgery centers a significant amount of money. For example, a typical $5 million net revenue surgery center can realize the following savings, according to MedHQ Co-Founder and CEO Tom Jacobs:

•    $55,000 by reducing turnover 25 percent
•    $110,000 by improving productivity 3 percent
•    $45,000 by reducing employment practices risks 50 percent
•    $40,000 by reducing costs of benefit plans and gaining efficiencies from an effective IT system

In total, a $5 million net revenue surgery center can have a $250,000 increase in operating income, Mr. Jacobs said.

More Articles on Surgery Centers:
Benchmarking, Quality Improvement & Cost Savings: 8 Key Steps

9 Statistics on Surgery Center Assets by Case Volume

7 Tips for Effectively Managing ASC Billing Processes

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