8 Ways to Involve ASC Physicians in Physician Recruitment

It's no secret that the recruitment of high-quality surgeons is essential to the growth and success of an ambulatory surgery center. Although recruitment is often left to a center administrator or a management company, physicians play an integral role in recruiting physicians, says Amanda Kane, manager of business development at Blue Chip Surgical Partners.

Here are eight ways to involve a center's physicians in the recruitment of other physicians.

1. Just ask. If the physicians are already invested in the center — financially or otherwise — chances are they'll be more than willing to help with recruitment, says Kelly Craig, director of in-market development at Meridian Surgical Partners. Ms. Craig asks physicians in her partner centers for suggestions on who she should reach out to. This can often open the door to a physician who might otherwise not return her calls or ignore her emails, especially if the physician is willing to make an introduction.

Before reaching out to potential physician recruits, Ms. Kane asks a center's physicians if anyone knows the physician and would be willing to make a phone call. Ms. Kane says it's important to directly ask physicians to reach out to other physicians. She has never had a physician refuse to make a call.

2. Choose the right physicians to be more involved. Lori Martin, administrator at Summit Surgery Center at Saint Mary's Galena in Reno, Nev., says choosing the right physicians to be involved in physician recruitment is the most important part. She says the medical director and president of the board at Summit are both well-respected and active in the community, which are important components when thinking about recruitment. Ms. Craig usually gravitates toward physicians who have good business sense and are interested in growing the business.

3. Have physicians make recruiting calls. Ms. Kane often asks physicians to make the first contact with a physician she is looking to recruit. The physician generally has better luck getting through, and when she follows up, she is more likely to be connected and be able to organize a meeting.

"A physician — unlike any other party in the recruiting process — can most quickly create a warm lead for me just by picking up the phone," she says.

The same applies to follow-up calls. When Ms. Craig's recruitment efforts were not successful on a cold call or a sales call, she often has physicians in her centers make follow-up calls.

"It works so much better than having a business person walk through the door," she says. "It's the peer-to-peer respect that surgeons have for one another."

4. Bring physicians on sales calls. Ms. Craig has even had physicians volunteer or agree to go on sales calls with her. These are usually the physicians who are interested in growing the business. Bringing a physician along has helped Ms. Craig get "past the gatekeeper" and into the office of a physician she's trying to recruit.

5. Encourage physicians to be involved in the community. Ms. Craig says she encourages her physicians to be out in the public attending fundraisers and dinners. She says most of the partners at her center are already very involved in the community.

Ms. Martin also encourages her physicians and staff to be active in the community in order to interact with as many people as possible.

"The medical director and president of the board have a lot of confidence in our center," she says. "That's important when they're out in the community."

6. Assist physicians in making casual conversations productive. Much of the interaction physicians have with each other is out in the community or casually at work.

"Some of these conversations occur when they're out to dinner because they socialize together," says Ms. Martin. "Their kids go to the same school, and it comes up when they're waiting to pick the kids up from school."

In the past 24 months, Ms. Martin has recruited six physicians this way, and she says the key to turning these casual conversations into physician recruitment is making sure the center's physicians have accurate and up-to-date information about the center's operations. This includes things such as patient satisfaction rates, infection rates, equipment, turnover times, available operating room times, insurances contracts and distribution information.

Ms. Martin even encourages physicians to talk about the quality of the scrubs, what's brought in for lunch for the staff and other small things that make surgeons feel appreciated. It might seem trivial, but it really makes a difference, she says.

7. Add physician recruitment to the board meeting agenda. Ms. Kane says this is a sure-fire way to ensure that the ASC partners discuss surgeon recruitment. This is the time to talk about which physicians she should be reaching out, ask for introductions and provide physicians with information about the center to help in their conversations.

8. Frame recruitment as a profit generator. For those physicians who aren't already involved, it's helpful to frame physician recruitment in terms of increasing business, and ultimately, profitability, Ms. Craig says. Explaining the business benefits — increased profits, higher distributions and more patients — can go a long way in convincing a physician that being involved in physician recruitment is important.

"The added cases and revenue are going to benefit all parties involved," says Ms. Kane "Especially for current owners, it will increase the value of the shares they own."

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