4 Small Efforts That Have a Big Effect on Improving OR Volumes

This article is written by Carla Shehata, Vice President, Operations and Kathleen Bernicky, Director of Clinical Operations at Regent Surgical Health. It was originally published by Regent Surgical Health.

Capturing a greater share of cases from surgeons already utilizing your site is the quickest and least expensive way to increase OR volume in your surgery center. These are four easy, common-sense methods to increase OR volume that don't cost a dime:

1. Cross-train staff. Create overlap in your staff through cross-training to give your center flexibility. No single staff member should be crucial for any procedure performed at your facility. Train your staff so if someone comes down with the flu or goes on vacation, the center can still perform all its procedures and therefore accept all scheduled cases. It is unacceptable to lose case volume to competitors because one of your staff members is out of the office.

Communicate this cross-training to surgeons who regularly work in your center. Let them know you have multiple staff members capable of assisting their specialties.

2. Be open to new procedures. Your organization should be flexible in all areas — including the clinical side. Successful centers engage with physicians looking to perform new procedures.

If a physician who regularly uses your center finds you are unwilling to consider investing in a new procedure he or she wants to perform, the physician may take his or her entire caseload elsewhere. Listen to your physicians and put in the time to evaluate the profitability of new procedures. The new procedure itself may not be a huge money-maker, but it may mean the difference between keeping or losing a physician's caseload.

3. Make scheduling convenient. A physician's scheduler is a gatekeeper. Your scheduling staff needs to make the process of scheduling a case at the center as easy and convenient as they can for both the surgeon and his or her staff. Your staff should treat physicians' schedulers with patience and understanding, working with them as partners rather than inconveniences. If your staff is rude to the wrong person it could have drastic ripple effects.

Regularly audit your schedulers by listening in on scheduling calls and talking with your partners' staff, otherwise you may not hear of an issue until it's too late to fix.

4. Build relationships.
It is important to remember that surgeons are your customers. They have picked your center to treat their patients and that choice warrants a greeting, a smile, a pleasant phone demeanor and maybe even a remembered birthday from your staff.

Extend this level of kindness to the surgeon's practice staff as well. Challenge your staff to remember names and personal details, track birthdays and special occasions and send bagels or flowers. If you spend small sums on goodwill measures they can often have a highly positive return on investment.

As an administrator, creating relationships with physicians opens up lines of communication. If a physician or his staff is disgruntled, knowing they can bring their problems to you and that you will take meaningful action is important for quelling potential drama.
Taking simple steps will play a significant role in whether a physician brings all of his or her cases to your OR or splits them with your competitor. These methods cost very little, requiring primarily effort and enthusiasm. Reflect on your center's performance in these areas and whether you're doing everything possible to capture cases from current partners.

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