5 Key Initiatives to Drive Surgery Center Patient Volume in 2013

Reed Martin on ASCsReed Martin, COO of Surgical Management Professionals, discusses five key initiatives for surgery centers to enhance patient volume next year.

1. Reputation improvement.
One of the most important factors in driving patient volume is the reputation of the surgeons or specialists at your center. The reputation of the surgery center itself is also crucial. Figure out how people in your community perceive your surgeons and the center, and brain storm ideas on how to make that impression more favorable.

"Factors like parking, scheduling, efficiency, pain control and high quality are all important for patients," says Mr. Martin. "Any quality information or patient satisfaction statistics the facility can publish will go a long way toward a strong reputation in the community."

Using a third party to compile quality and patient satisfaction statistics will lend credibility to the score so the ASC isn't scoring itself. Patients respond to this information and will be looking for high marks as they choose their next provider.

2. Website upgrades.
For many patients, the first introduction to your surgery center will be online, so your website should make a good impression. It should include links to physician practices so patients can research their surgeon. The site should also be easy for patients to navigate and include quality data front and center.

"Make it easy for patients to see all these things," says Mr. Martin. "We're considering initiatives that would allow our websites to be more accessible and to drive traffic there. We are also working to improve links on our websites and making sure our content is up to date."

There are companies that can help improve ASC websites and direct traffic to your target audiences. Using a few simple best practices, surgery centers can implement search engine optimization strategies that will direct patients in their area to the website when they search key words associated with your ASC.

3. Easier access to registration.
Make it easy for patients to register with the surgery center and schedule their appointments, especially for services like colonoscopies that can be marketed directly to patients. Allow patients to register online before they arrive at the ASC so the process runs more smoothly.

"We are finding that it's a more efficient operation for patients to provide their registration information when it is convenient for them," says Mr. Martin. "So when they arrive at the office they are able to quickly review the information they already reported."

4. Bring new procedures into the ASC.
There will be several opportunities to bring new types of procedures into ASCs in 2013. Examine your market to figure out whether it will make sense for you to expand your procedure list, which could include new minimally invasive techniques previously done in the hospital setting.

"There are cardiac, orthopedic and spine procedures that were inpatient surgeries in the past but are now regularly done on an outpatient basis," says Mr. Martin. "We are also evaluating 23-hour stays at a few ASCs for larger cases. There are a lot of policies, procedures and clinical factors that have to be evaluated."

It will take time and capital purchases to bring these cases into the ASC, but these are high acuity cases that reimburse well, for now. In most cases, they will benefit the ASC in the long run despite initial upfront costs.

5. Rewrite scripting for better patient satisfaction.
Patient satisfaction is an important part of any surgery center's success, and your front office staff will set the tone for the entire patient experience. Make sure employees are interacting with patients in the best way possible to improve patient satisfaction.

"We are trying to figure out how to say the best possible thing at the front desk when the patient comes and leaves," says Mr. Martin. "We want to know the best way to describe our interest in quality and patient satisfaction. The patient should understand why we are doing things — that will lead to better patient satisfaction."

Surgery centers can also lead initiatives to drive further accessibility and tout quality data to drive patient satisfaction.

More Articles on Surgery Centers:

4 Factors Affecting ASC Valuation and Sales

5 Key Trends for ASC Financing Opportunities

ASC Roundtable: What to Do in Markets With Heavy Hospital Employment

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