5 Steps for Smooth Surgeon Relations at a Cost Conscious Surgery Center

Tracey HarbourTracey Harbour, RN, BSN, administrator of Surgery Center of Pinehurst (N.C.), discusses five ways ambulatory surgery center leaders can create an atmosphere that attracts quality surgeons and provides an environment where they happily continue bringing cases, all while keeping in mind a budget.

1. Create an atmosphere of support for surgeons. Ambulatory surgery center leaders are constantly looking at ways to improve a surgery center's efficiency and outcomes. A center that is run efficiently and effectively builds a desirable atmosphere for quality surgeons and provides cost savings. "Current times are difficult on surgeons. They are being pulled in so many directions. A surgeon's quality of life can be improved by providing them a facility where they can schedule their cases easily and perform their cases efficiently," says Ms. Harbour. If surgeons are pleased with their experience performing cases at an ASC, it is likely they will continue to bring cases to that center.

2. Focus on maintaining quick turnover times. The amount of cases surgeons can perform is a critical element of their experience at an ASC. "Another cost conscious concept to consider is ensuring quick turnover time. This keeps the surgeon happy and keeps cases coming back," says Ms. Harbour. Quick turnover also eliminates wasted time, which translates into wasted resources and money.

3. Choose a staff surgeons can rely on. A large part of surgeons' experience at an ASC is based upon their interactions with the staff. "Employ highly skilled staff that surgeons prefer to work with. Surgeons develop a trust and dependence on a skilled staff. The staff should be aware of the surgeons' likes and dislikes, the equipment and supplies they prefer during their procedures and the pace at which they prefer to work," says Ms. Harbour. A skilled staff is always worth the investment. They are integral in maintaining an effectively run center and key in making surgeons' time at the ASC a worthwhile, positive experience.

Each member of the staff should be expected to perform at a high skill level. A nurse leader should be constantly looking at the schedule to figure out how to best utilize the staff's time and ASC leaders should ensure that they contract with an anesthesiologist group that performs at the same high level as the rest of the staff, said Ms. Harbour.

4. Foster positive relations between ASC leadership and surgeons. ASC leaders should always be willing to listen to surgeons performing cases at their center. "ASC leaders must develop a relationship with their surgeons; they must build on this relationship by having continued, open, honest lines of communication. One tactic at our facility improves communication by rounding on our surgeons. During rounding, we ask the surgeon if they have the tools they need to perform their cases as well as ask if there is anything better that we can do for them," says Ms. Harbour.

5. Involve physicians in the decision making process. Surgeons may not agree on how everything is done at the center or what equipment is available, but it isn't feasible to purchase each item that is requested. Rather than simply turning down surgeon requests that can't be accommodated, invite the surgeons to be active participants in the process of determining policy and purchasing decisions. "Involving your physicians in the decision making process is a must. The physicians need to know you are an advocate for them, that you are working with them, not against them," says Ms. Harbour.

More Articles on ASC Issues:
Surgery Center Trends Today: 8 Thoughts on What Works – And What Doesn't
10 Ideas to Capture More Value From Daily Surgery Center Activities
Navigating the New Era of Surgery Center Healthcare: Q&A With Gregory Maldonado

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