4 Items to Boost ASC Strategic Planning in 2013

Strategic planning will be key to surgery center success in 2013, as ASCs implement stricter quality reporting requirements, purchase EMR systems and prepare for different payment models through healthcare reform. Here Lori Vernon of Health Inventures discusses four items to consider for your strategic plan in 2013.

1. Learn more about your data and IT systems. Data will be critical for ASCs in 2013, as surgery centers look to negotiate fair rates with commercial payors and report quality outcomes to CMS. "Using data is critical, and we all need to grow and develop the data that is available to us," she says. "There are a lot of nursing leaders without an IT background, so they need to be educated on those tools."

She says many surgery centers do not use their IT systems to their fullest capacity — or even understand what the systems can do. She recommends contacting your IT vendor for education and exploration of your system; you may find that you can access data that improves your benchmarking efforts and saves money in the long run.

2. Understand how physicians are partnering in your community. Many hospitals are seeking to integrate with physicians to gain market share and prepare for the advent of accountable care organizations, Ms. Vernon says. This means that surgery centers should look to their community in 2013 and think about integrating physicians into their business. If your physicians do not feel engaged with your ASC, they may move to a facility that will give them more options for integration.

"You need to know your market and what's happening in your market, "she says. "Hospitals are looking to set up integration models, and it's only going to be more important to involve physicians in your center and make sure they are educated." Talk to your physicians about the value of surgery centers, and make note of providers who are considering hospital employment or practice acquisition. If you are going to lose a high-volume physician to a hospital competitor, you need to begin recruitment efforts in advance or his or her departure.

3. Keep up with governmental news regarding ASCs. Keep your strategic plan current by understanding governmental actions that will impact surgery centers, Ms. Vernon says. If CMS initiates a reimbursement reduction and your center relies heavily on Medicare, you'll need to know in order to negotiate for higher commercial payor reimbursement or cut costs in other areas.

If your physicians experience a reduction to their professional fees through Medicare, they may stop bringing cases to your surgery center. "It's very important to know what Congress is doing about the fiscal cliff, or what CMS is doing," she says. "You can receive updates through your state ASC association or the ASCA."

4. Collaborate with hospitals on cutting costs and creating efficiencies. Surgery centers need to be more vigilant than ever about costs and efficiencies, and hospitals could serve as a resource, Ms. Vernon says. "Hospitals are seeking ways to increase their efficiencies, and though they have much bigger books of business, there's value in tapping into their affiliated ASCs for suggestions and modeling," she says.

There's no reason that cost-cutting can't be a joint effort, if you have a good relationship with your local hospital. She recommends reaching out to hospitals with joint venture ASC partners and suggesting that you get in contact with the administrator to discuss your progress.

Learn more about Health Inventures.

Related Articles on ASC Turnarounds:
Becoming a Better ASC Administrator in 2013: 5 Steps to Improve Your Leadership
Ideas to Achieve Positive Cash Flow at ASCs: Q&A With Andrew Schrage
5 Steps to Optimize Online Marketing for Surgery Centers

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