Neal Kaushal, MD, is chief of gastroenterology and chairman of the department of medicine at Adventist Health in Sonora, Calif.
Dr. Kaushal will serve on the panel "Adding or Expanding ASC Services? How Not to Hurt Your Bottom Line" at Becker’s ASC Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker’s is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference on Oct. 27-29 in Chicago.
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Question: What is the smartest thing you've done in the last year to set your organization up for success?
Neal Kaushal: Get to know the key stakeholders. So much about success in business is about relationships. By building personal relationships that augment professional ones, stakeholders feel more a part of the team which can then help drive positive change.
Q: What are you most excited about right now and what makes you nervous?
NK: I'm most excited about new developments in technology, data and analytics which are increasingly essential tools in operating successful ASCs. In addition to providing safe, quality clinical care, ASCs are most effective when running efficiently and driving revenue generation. To accomplish this, however, is no easy task. That is why leveraging resources and even third-party companies to optimize ASC performance is such a fascinating up and coming industry.
I'm most nervous about the consolidation of larger health systems making care delivery less nimble and flexible. Healthcare delivery has to evolve continuously along with the needs and wants of the consumers — i.e., the patients. With smaller entities being acquired by larger ones, whether that be health systems, private equity firms or university based medical centers, increased standardization can also spell a decreased ability to adapt quickly to changes in the healthcare landscape. It will be more important than ever to keep this in mind going forward as mergers and acquisitions continue to take place.
Q: How are you thinking about growth over the next 12 months?
NK: The next 12 months will be challenging in terms of growth. Several key financial drivers are currently stacked against positive growth. Inflation is currently at an all-time high since the 2008 financial crisis, and interest rates by the Federal Reserve are closely following suit in order to exert downward pressure on the economy. While this may help stem the tide of this inflationary cycle in the longer run, in the short term this can certainly stifle economic growth across many industries. The rise in interest rates also reduces the borrowing power of firms in access to capital, so mergers and acquisitions may see a plateau or even a decline over the next year.
Additionally, a new round of proposals is making its way through the legislative process that will see CMS reduce reimbursements significantly as compared to last year.
Nevertheless, healthcare continues to be the largest expenditure as a portion of gross domestic product — aside from Defense spending — so in that sense we will always have that in our favor. Keys to success during this uncertain period include maximizing cash reserves to 'weather the storm' and optimizing operational efficiency to reduce unnecessary cost burdens and waste.
Q: What will healthcare executives and leaders need to be effective leaders for the next five years?
NK: Healthcare executives and leaders need to understand that we are in the business of people. Not only that, but we are in the business of taking care of people. Patient care has to come first, followed by revenue and profits, not the other way around. This does not mean blank checks for healthcare expenditures with no regard for returns; rather, profits and losses must be put into context in terms of benefits to patient care and the local community, not just what they look like on the balance sheet.
Q: What is your strategy for recruiting and retaining great teams?
NK: A team is a system in which the sum of the individuals is greater than its parts. Team members need to be allowed to express their individuality to maximize their own potential, while team leaders need to know when to allow this to happen vs when to step in and provide guidance.