Ambulatory Surgery Center Expansion in Uncertain Times: Q&A With Dotty Bollinger

Dotty BollingerLaser Spine Institute began as a spine-focused ambulatory surgery center in Tampa, Fla., and since 2005 has expanded to include five ASCs across the country, counting the most recent one in The Woodlands, Texas, outside Houston. Dotty Bollinger, President and COO of Laser Spine Institute, discusses the ASC's strategy for success despite challenges in the healthcare space and what Laser Spine Institute has in store for the future.

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Q: Despite the challenging healthcare environment, Laser Spine Institute has been able to grow and expand tremendously over the past few years. What is your strategy for success as you open new locations across the country?

Dotty Bollinger: We believe that the healthcare marketplace is ripe for innovation. We believe with the discussion on healthcare reform in the media consumers are more educated and we know from the response to our national advertising that we provide the types of procedures consumers want today. As a result, we have created a five-year strategic growth plan and we are committed to taking our minimally invasive spine surgery procedures out to the patients with a more local approach than our model has historically been.

We opened a location in Houston this year and for 2014, expect to see us double in size and have a large presence in the Midwest and new eastern locations.

Q: As you expand to different locations, how do you recruit new surgeons and bring them into the organization?

DB: We want to recruit local surgeons in the markets where we are expanding. We are currently having conversations directly with those surgeons and practices. Our practice employs MDs, DOs, neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons. We look for a spine surgeon who is fellowship-trained coming from any background who shares our vision for a patient-centric practice.

We are looking for surgeons who have excellent hands and are surgically skilled, but also great team members. The physicians should want to be leaders in a growing organization with a great culture and live by its values. Laser Spine Institute is a different and better place to work than I've seen in healthcare. We are looking for surgeons who desire that difference.

Q: From your experience, what drives ASC success in today's healthcare market?

DB: We believe that basing medical excellence inside a high hospitality-driven environment is the right recipe for success in healthcare. We believe we do it better than any other healthcare model. Our model involves seeing patients in the clinic's office all the way through postoperative care. Because we form a relationship with patients that lasts through the continuum, we have multiple touch points to create a superior quality of service.

We focus on the wellness, care and attention to our patients. This patient-first focus lasts all the way through their visit from paying attention to wait times to making sure we have effective infection control policies and best training for our surgeons. That's something that makes us unique in the ASC world and in healthcare.

We ask how every decision we make will impact the patient and if it doesn't make the patient better or puts the patient at risk, we won't do it.

Q: Over the years, what about your model has given Laser Spine Institute such longevity?

DB: We certainly benefit from being a single-specialty ASC. We are providing a better option — minimally invasive surgery — and are an alternative to hospitals. We believe that with whatever lies ahead in healthcare reform, ASC operations like ours that are providing value-based options for payers, particularly in a patient-centric environment, will win every time from a patient and insurer perspective. We are excited about the future.

Q: Two of the Laser Spine Institute locations recently received APEX Quality & Patient Safety recognitions. What does that mean for the ASC?

DB: We are very proud of the awards and we think there is an opportunity for other healthcare practices to come in and learn from us. We recently had a physician from Texas who was interested in our model and it was really great to see our patient experience from his eyes. He had no idea that we could take the fancy words from our mission statement on the wall and really bring them to life.

Q: Where do you see Laser Spine Institute headed in the future?

DB: We already are a national company with five regional centers and now we are seeking to expand from the regional model to an even more local model. Some people say "Build it and They Will Come"; we already know we have patients nationwide who are waiting for us to come to them. Our growth strategy is going where patients are asking us to have a presence.

More Articles on Surgery Centers:
5 Recent Surgery Center Acquisitions & Conversions

The Journey to ASC Leadership: Q&A With Robert Knox of Texas Orthopedics Surgery Center

5 Tactics to Trip Surgery Center Staffing Costs

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