One ASC leader's tips for lowering operating costs

Prashanth Bala, vice president of ASC operations at Shields Health in Quincy, Mass., spoke with Becker's Oct. 21 to discuss tips for lowering ASC operating costs.

Editor's note: This piece was edited lightly for brevity and clarity.

Question: How can ASCs lower operating costs?

Prashanth Bala: There are a couple of different ways. So obviously understanding the business as a whole, and taking the time to do a few things. One of which could be renegotiating implant costs or just your supply cost expenses in general. I think that's an area for continued opportunity of reducing costs. No. 2 is I think one of the areas that we're looking at, for example, is where can technology play a role that used to once upon a time be dominated by a human? Can we redeploy our people so that they can be more patient centric, as opposed to process centric, and let our technology help? With those processes, there's a lot of activity now in artificial intelligence, especially when it comes to back-office functions. There's technology when it comes to preregistration and the preoperative process when the patient enters the building. We are looking at what that might look like for us if we were to deploy technology as opposed to having it be a person. Then taking our people and saying, "We want you to be more patient focused and putting attention to the patient as opposed to that process of administrative tasks."

Q: Are there any specific technologies or programs that Shields Health has been using or that you've been keeping an eye out for?

PB: There's a few. So there's a lot of activity right now in the revenue cycle space that has to do with using AI for prior authorization and machine-learning type technologies that help with patient coding and clinical documentation. There's several companies in that space now. There's a lot of great technology coming out now in the areas of supply chain management, in tracking where your implants are, where they are in the process. One particular one called Tie Dye Health, we are looking at them because they can take the people out of having to navigate the purchase order documentation, and have that be an electronic process so that we don't have to get a person to send it over to a revenue cycle [department]; revenue cycle can automatically pull that via being electronic, especially for … estimating the bills for implants. We're also looking at some preregistration technology as well, so that it can be more engaging for our patients. Then it can also bring them into the care and have them own their care, so to speak, and be a part of it. There is a lot of great technology around that space.

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