5 Ways to Achieve Double-Digit Profitability in Challenging Times

At the 19th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 26, 2012, a panel of ASC industry experts discussed how to achieve double-digit profit growth in ASCs during challenging times.

The panel included President of National Medical Billing Services Lisa Rock, CEO of Regent Surgical Health Tom Mallon, CEO of Surgery Partners Michael Doyle, and Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Surgery Center Sales for Medline Industries Doug Golwas.

"It fundamentally comes down to great partners," said Mr. Mallon. "To be successful in ASCs they must treat each other with respect for the betterment of the patients, physicians and staff."

The panelists discussed several concrete ways surgery centers can promote growth:

•    Choose cost-effective vendors and suppliers
•    Make sure procedures are authorized before they are performed
•    Tighten up the revenue cycle process on the front end
•    Check electronic billing functions
•    Bring in additional cases through new or existing surgeons

"The biggest challenge and opportunity going forward is the data you should have access to from your partners — manufacturer, distributor or GPO," said Mr. Golwas. "Are you getting access to the prices you should? Use that data to identify the biggest savings opportunities. The biggest opportunity is custom procedure trays, non-reprocessed and single-use devices."

Cutting costs is important, but a more important factor for growing revenue is driving more cases into the center. "There is going to be a very finite amount of influence on the expense side," said Mr. Doyle. "You are not going to cost-save your way to dramatic growth. Have a business and recruitment plan and pay attention to revenue. Your win is on the revenue to make sure you are collecting for cases you do."

However, before bringing on new physicians assess current partners and make sure there isn't any space that is unfilled. This may mean moving around block time or becoming more efficient in the OR to make room for additional cases. Also consider what additional cases from each specialty could be performed in the center. It may require purchasing new technology, but the return will be worth it.

"Centers that are well run and stay on top of technology are doing well," said Ms. Rock. "Hiring professionals to negotiate contracts and applying those professionals throughout the entire operation will serve you well. Those that do not own a thing will not do so well."

Related Articles on Coding, Billing and Collections:
10 Strategies for Effective Payor Negotiations
What Are the Major Disputes With Out of Network Payors?
7 Best Practices to Reevaluate the Revenue Cycle

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