Here are four things that administrators do to prepare for the future from Michelle Dickison, Regional Vice President, Operations, for Meridian Surgical Partners.
1. Keep up with new technology without breaking the bank. It's definitely a challenge to incorporate new technology into surgery centers when reimbursement is decreasing. Administrators with a tight budget should make sure the technology will be cost-effective and truly make patient outcomes better.
"You have to continually keep the balance between staying on the cutting-edge of technology and being cost effective," says Ms. Dickison. "However, you can't just stay comfortable with what you're doing because technology is always changing."
Cost transparency will help bring the price of new technology down, so constantly keep tabs on your marketplace to ensure you're able to provide the best in patient care.
2. Communicate changes with physician partners effectively. Healthcare reform has turned the whole industry upside-down, and several direct and indirect changes occur in the marketplace every day. As an administrator, be aware of these changes and relay them to surgeons appropriately.
"Look at what changes are coming down the road and make sure you know what your physicians want for your center," says Ms. Dickison. "For example, technology changes all the time and we want to make sure our patients have the best care and implants. These items are usually expensive when they are first introduced in the market, but six months later the cost isn't so high due to demand. We need to stay in close contact with vendors and negotiate with them for these items when the timing is right."
Sometimes physicians might have relationships with these vendors and be in a better position to negotiate price. Leverage these relationships and constantly communicate with physicians so they know the ASC's price point.
3. Spread the word about your center in a cost-effective way. Surgery centers often have tight marketing budgets, but there are several ways administrators and physicians can promote the center to keep them at the top of mind of the community without breaking the bank.
"You can use a combination of traditional marketing and new tactics to spread the word about your center," says Ms. Dickison. "Become involved with the Chamber of Commerce, host an onsite event, such as an open house, or attend another business's event. It's beneficial when the administrator takes part in this, as well as some of the physicians. Promoting the center is great, but ultimately high quality, cost-effective care will drive patient volume."
Consider ways your center can partner with the physicians' offices to cross-market to the captured audience that includes patients and their families. Provide them with easy to access information and educational materials about the center's specialties and procedures, credentialed physicians, and upcoming events. Develop and execute a strategy centered on reaching out to existing and potential referral sources to continually communicate the patient and physician benefits that exist at the center.
4. Stay flexible with strategic planning. ASC administrators should be flexible when it comes to strategic planning. Be able to revise your course to future success depending on changes in the marketplace and pride your staff on fluid adoption of new requirements.
"Flexibility depends on good communication with physicians and staying in touch with the marketplace," says Ms. Dickison. "It's going to be more challenging as reimbursements decrease and expenses increase. You have to be open and look for new avenues and options for success. As an administrator, you have to go in so many different directions at the same time, but you always want to stay focused on the patient."