Co-Founder of Successful Oklahoma Surgery Center Shares Advice for Growing Your ASC
Keith Smith, MD, founded Surgery Center of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, Okla., with one other physician, Steven Lantier, MD, in 1997. Since its inception, the ASC has continually added physician partners, and the ASC now counts more than 42 area surgeons as partners.
Here, Dr. Smith shares his advice for growing volume through attracting physician partners at your ASC.
Have a core mission and stick to it
According to Dr. Smith, his ASC's success in growing volume through the addition of physician partners is due to the center's unchanging mission of providing quality care.
Dr. Smith says that this commitment to quality and efficiency has created a strong reputation for the center, which now attracts surgeons without much active effort on his part. "I can maybe think of one or two people that I've called and visited with about joining [our ASC]," he says. "[The physician partners] contacted us because we became a brand in the community. I think that occurred because our mission of quality is really clear. The day we cannot provide high quality care at a low cost, we will close."
ASC owners should be selective in bringing in the right physician partners, not just any physician partner, says Dr. Smith.
"Because our mission is quality, we are very picky about the surgeons and nursing and scrub staff that we allow to work here," says Dr. Smith "There have been times when we have not taken a surgeon that wanted to work here because he or she was not reputable or not kind."
Dr. Smith says that surgeons that are not a good fit for the ASC may generate profit in the short term but will hurt the center's success in the long run.
"You have to be extremely careful about bringing in people, even in lean times," he says. "It's difficult to retain really good staff that delivers the best quality if you have a surgeon that isn't cordial to them."
Dr. Smith suggests bringing in potential physician partners for a trial period before allowing them to be a full partner in the ASC, as is done at the center.
"We bring the surgeon in for a trial of usually six months to a year," he says. "If they fail the trial, they don't come back."
Have anesthesiologists as co-owners
Although many ASCs now outsource anesthesia services, Dr. Smith recommends that ASCs look for anesthesiologists who are interested in becoming co-owners. He says that having anesthesiologists as owners has been critical to the ASC's success.
"Having an anesthesiologist as a co-owner puts everyone on same boat going same direction," he says. "If there is a surgical case that financially is not good for our ASC but is financially is very good for anesthesia staff, we won't do those cases because the anesthesiologists are owners."
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