The Challenges of Surgery Center Leadership: Q&A With Ravine Way Surgery Center Administrator Melody Winter-Jabeck
Q: How did you begin your career in healthcare?
Melody Winter-Jabeck: My first position out of business college in 1989 was with a toxicology practice in Denver. I was with that practice for 10 years before returning to Chicago. I was lucky enough to obtain a position with the Glenview division of Illinois Bone & Joint Institute in 1998 at a time when they were poised for significant growth.
Over the past 15 years I have been privileged to increase my skills as an administrator as our division has grown from five physicians to 20 physicians and eight PAs, including our development of Ravine Way Surgery Center in 2006. We have a terrific group of providers, and each expansion and challenge the practice has faced has given me tremendous opportunity.
Q: What are currently the most important issues you are focusing on at the Ravine Way Surgery Center?
MWJ: Over the last two years, our center has gone from a largely out-of-network strategy to having signed contracts with all the major payors. While this has given us the opportunity to serve a larger segment of our patient base, it has also significantly changed our revenue stream. Our greatest challenge currently is managing our costs and becoming more innovative and flexible to enable more cases with minimal increased cost. In addition, as with all segments of healthcare, we are watching very closely the regulatory changes for surgical facilities and are concerned about possible adverse effects of Obamacare.
Q: How have the challenges of your position changed from when you first became an ASC administrator to today?
MWJ: The business of medicine continues to become more complex on all fronts. It's no longer enough to provide excellent care in a safe, modern facility. In addition, flat rate surgery center payments from insurance companies cause us to make difficult decisions every day about whether we can economically afford to perform a case. Our center is 100 percent orthopedics, and many of our cases are complex and require expensive implants. This is disheartening for our healthcare professionals who would like those decisions to be made solely based on factors like the patient's wishes, medical condition, etc.
Q: What do you think are the greatest strengths at your surgery center?
MWJ: We have a culture of excellence that extends directly from our clinical director, Martha Call, and our business office manager, Bertha Dominguez. In addition, we are lucky to have high caliber, conscientious staff who love what they do. This makes for an excellent experience both for physicians and patients.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for ASCs in the next few years?
MWJ: Regulation and the uncertainty of new healthcare systems will be our most immediate challenges. However, surgery centers are positioned perfectly to take advantage of the payer interest in low-cost, high-quality avenues of healthcare. If that value is fully recognized in the industry, the potential for surgery centers could greatly outpace the potential downsides of Obamacare and other initiatives.
More Articles on ASC Issues:
The Journey to ASC Leadership: Q&A With Robert Knox of Texas Orthopedics Surgery Center
8 ASC Administrators on Remaining Competitive Post-Healthcare Reform
From Intake to Discharge: 4 Tips to Perfect Patient Flow at Surgery Centers
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