6 Key Strategies for Administrators to Bring ASCs Into the New Era of Healthcare

Charlie Dailey on surgery centersHealthcare is constantly changing and surgery center leaders must develop a strategy for success.

"We are seeing a lot of change in this environment, not only within the healthcare arena but also within the small businesses arena," says Charles Dailey, vice president of development for ASD Management. "Operations with 100 employees or less need to take a proactive approach to meeting today's challenges."

Here are six strategies for ambulatory surgery center administrators to bring their ASC into the new era of healthcare reform.

1. Focus on facility operations.
Since opening in 1986, ASD Management has attributed much of its success to focusing on facility operations. Whether improving risk management, clinical operations or business office functions, affiliated surgery centers have flourished because of this narrow focus.

"We have established a core set of systems that really provide improvements within all aspects of the surgery center," says Mr. Dailey. "The bottom line in our job is increasing revenue and managing decreasing expenses. Those are the two parts of the game, and by doing them well we are able to achieve financial success."

Fine-tuning the operational systems at ASCs allows each administrator to customize systems that work best for them.

2. Stay flexible for rapid changes.
Healthcare providers are facing a slew of new challenges today, and more coming right around the corner. Quality reporting, ICD-10 transitions and meaningful use attestation are a few of the most significant changes for ASC staff and surgeons; administrators must develop a strategy to make big changes and small tweaks to their process accommodating for surgeon and staff needs.

"We have done a good job with this in the past and now we have to do even better based on today's healthcare environment," says Mr. Dailey. "Very rapid changes are coming to us. We are looking at the advent of ICD-10 and we need to properly bill and code. We're looking at changes in regulations which will ultimately impact profitability."

Administrators, physician investors and corporate partners must take a hands-on approach to ensure everyone at the ASC has the right tools to complete their jobs efficiently and effectively.

3. Use financial analytics to optimize accounts receivable
. Financial analytics are imperative to identify, evaluate and address strengths and weaknesses at the center. Place special focus on the revenue cycle data to uncover issues that could save your center from future disaster.

"Use a computer dashboard to proactively approach revenue cycle data and take a very deep look into your process," says Mr. Dailey. "We are conducting a forensic approach to really turn over every stone and make sure we are receiving all reimbursement possible. Look at A/R and collection practices with computerized programs. We are using those tools to give us visibility and make decisions about what we find."

4. Maximize expenses
. Be proactive about maximizing expenses wherever the ASC can afford additional savings. For example, look at the supply chain and consider going through a group purchasing organization to maximize savings.

"Going through a GPO and reaching out to some of our major spend companies to renegotiate contracts are how we might maximize expenses in supply chain," says Mr. Dailey. "Be aggressive to achieve the best discounts. We are also taking it a step further in the world of orthopedics and embracing the concept of generic implants for products considered commodities. By taking a serious look at costs, we are able to cut down our expenses."

Many surgery centers are experiencing revenue cut backs today, and truly maximizing expenses at every opportunity will offset some of this loss.

5. Approach risk management proactively.
It will be important to minimize risk going forward. Make sure everyone at your surgery center is compliant and assign a person, or team, to make sure your center is updated with all regulatory changes coming down the pipe.

"We are taking a really close look at our risk management programs to minimize the potential for issues," says Mr. Dailey. "We want to ensure proper coding and affirm all licensing is accurate, and we also want to take the extra steps to identify key regulatory areas are being updated and adhered to. We've hired extra clinical administrators to go into the centers and conduct audits to make sure we are compliant."

6. Address human resources issues like a small business.
Most ASCs have less than 100 employees, so they are considered small businesses. Under the Affordable Care Act, any small business with less than 100 employees will likely see insurance policies and human resources expenses skyrocket in the near future.

"From a management point of view, we are proactively doing research on how to deal with these issues and purchase insurance policies that are focused on healthcare and distributed by wholesalers," says Mr. Dailey. "We're looking for vendors selling insurance packages focused on the healthcare industry with valued benefits at a discounted rate. We are working with several organizations to achieve better deals for employees."

Mr. Dailey and his team are looking at small businesses around the country — not just within healthcare — to create and implement benefits plans and model human resources functions.

More Articles on Surgery Centers:

10 Surgery Center Leaders During Facility Expansions

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

6 Ideas to Keep the Best Surgeons Coming Back to Your ASC

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