10 Steps to Immediately Improve ASC Profits

At the 18th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 27, Rob Westergard, CPA, CFO, and Susan Kizirian, COO, Ambulatory Surgical Centers of America, shared 10 steps ambulatory surgery center leaders can take to improve profits.

The ten steps they shared include:

1. Managing change. Ms. Kizirian said the first step is fostering a learning culture that encourages constant change and improvement. When a need for change is identified, she recommends starting by identifying stakeholders who can bring about the change and engaging them.

2. Materials management. ASCs need to closely monitor materials purchased, implement purchasing policies and ensure they are followed and maintain an up-to-date inventory. They should also confirm supply invoices match supplies received, consider ordering supplies on consignment and enter into service contracts sparingly, said Ms. Kizirian. She also recommended centers use one full-time person to oversee materials management. "Multiple people trying to assemble and categorize [supplies] can be problematic," she said.

3. Case costing. ASCs should perform case costing, including cost per OR minute, for "everyone, every case, every time," said Ms. Kizirian. She suggested ASC administrators meet with physicians monthly to review case costs, discuss any variations and identify best practices. For detailed instructions on how to calculate case costs, click here.

4. Recruit new physicians. Ms. Kizirian recommended physician partners identify potential future partners, who can then be contacted and encouraged to visit the center. She said ASCOA centers ask physicians to trial a center three times, and during each of those times, a registered nurse is assigned to oversee the physicians' visit. Each center also has a VIP protocol it follows when new physicians are trialing the center.

5. Staffing. Utilize part-time and per diem staff and, "send people home" when they aren't performing cases, said Ms. Kizirian.

6.  Schedule compression. She also recommended centers compress their operating and procedure room schedules to eliminate gaps, implement vertical scheduling and consider closing one or two days per week if volume does not fill a full five-day schedule.

7.  Financial management. Mr. Westergard discussed how hospitals can improve their financial management, recommending centers perform daily, weekly and monthly reports to assess financial health and benchmark. For more information on line items for each report, click here.

8. Billing and collections management. A major key to success in billing and collections is the administrator, said Mr. Westergard. The administrator must understand the ins and outs of billing and collections as he or she is ultimately responsible for the financial health of the center. He also recommended centers verify patient benefits before the day of procedure and notify patients of any costs they will owe in order to reduce back-end collections. 

9. Participate in benchmarking. Benchmarking financial, operational and other measures helps centers gauge their performance against others and identify "what's good and how to keep it going and what's bad and how to get rid of it," he said.

10. Stay focused on other key issues that "maximize your bottom line." Ms. Kizirian said these include issues such as debt service, quality, accounts payable, and improving contracts, among others.

Related Articles on ASC Profits:

7 Traits That Make Your Surgery Center More Attractive to Physicians
10 Best Practices for Surgery Center Improvement From 10 ASC Leaders
6 Ways to Decrease Staffing Costs in a Surgery Center

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