4 Approaches to Improve ASC Profits Now

At the 20th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 24, a panel of ASC experts tackled the idea of best single actions centers can take to improve profits now.

The panel consisted of Chris Swing, chief financial officer of Vantage Technology; Amy Sinder, administrator of CBC Surgery Center; Lilliana Lehmann, administrator of Hallandale Outpatient Surgical Center; and Brian Brown, regional vice president of Meridian Surgical Partners.

Here are the four of the biggest factors the panel identified as affecting ASC profits.

1. Staffing costs. Ms. Sinder recommends hiring all flex staff and capping fulltime employees at 32 hours per week. This will drive staffing costs down without deterring quality employees; the really qualified nurses like time flexibility and working without being on-call, she said.

2. Supply costs. Don’t buy supplies to just put them in storage, Ms. Lehmann said. Meet with vendors regularly and purchase as many supplies on consignment as possible. Group purchasing organizations can also help keep supply costs down.

Think outside of the box, Mr. Brown said. Tactics such as direct purchasing can cut out unnecessary sales representatives without infringing upon physician preference. He also recommends putting the prices of supplies on the table so physicians can be more aware of the monetary choices they are making. “A physician may hold off on preemptively opening a supply if he or she visually sees how much the item costs,” Mr. Brown said.

3. Cost-conscious culture. Put the expectation to every person in the organization to improve in efficiency, which will lead to ultimate cost savings, Mr. Swing said. “I truly believe you will find people within your organizations who talks about business and has the ability to dream,” he said. “You need them to help combat that person who doesn’t like change.”

4. Physician participation. Physicians can have a dramatic impact on the costs of a surgery center, and they are crucial to a successful center. However, most physicians don’t know what something costs, Mr. Swing says. It’s not their job. Work to get physicians to buy into the your attempts to save money.

“Resistance to change is hard to break through,” Mr. Brown said. “If you try to do it on your own without physicians, you will meet resistance. Get them in on the front end of the change.”

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