Run a More Efficient Physician-Owned ASC: 2 Top Strategies From Dr. Barbara Bergin
Barbara Bergin, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates, an Austin-based physician-owned ASC. Physician-owned ASCs that are not connected to hospitals face many challenging realities, including increasing supply costs and stagnant or decreasing reimbursements. Though often cheaper for insurance companies, ASCs are still reimbursed at lower rates, Dr. Bergin says.
Despite the numerous challenges, it is still possible for physician-owned ASCs to stay efficient and profitable. Here are Dr. Bergin's two best strategies for increasing operating efficiency.
1. Fewer, more efficient staff members.
Dr. Bergin: One of the things we've done is to maintain a staff of high-level people who are willing to do all of the OR functions. We do not have an orderly. Our nurses and our techs participate in cleaning of the rooms in between cases, cleaning instruments and setting up rooms for the next day.
This enables us to not have lots of fulltime staff sitting around with nothing to do. If cases go late, you can have to keep those people working the whole time or else it's a waste of money. Techs can't do nursing jobs, but nurses can do tech jobs if need be.
This way, we maintain a lower number of employees, but everyone we hire is willing to do all of the jobs. Our staff is very willing to do all levels of work in the surgery center, and we've gotten a reputation for being an efficient and pleasant place to work.
2. Strict supply usage.
Dr. Bergin: We have a strictly orthopedic ASC so we are able to really limit our inventory. We make group decisions about what instruments we will have. If someone is picky about something, then most of the time the rest of us are willing to compromise. When someone wants something special, we will analyze the request, and it might require a group vote.
A carpal tunnel tray at a hospital may have 40 instruments on it because every physician wants his or her certain instrument; ours has 10 to 12 instruments because we all sat down when we started and agreed on what we really needed. When you practice in a hospital surgery center, they will open up 10 sutures to make sure you have everything you might need because they aren't sure which ones you will use. Our staff opens one, and they don't open them ahead of time. We are able to really keep our inventory costs down.
More Articles on Turnarounds:
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How to Lower Supply Spend in Surgery Centers: Q&A With Chris Klassen of Surgical Care Affiliates
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