Build an Effective ASC Physician Recruitment Strategy: Q&A With Winborne Macphail of Surgical Care Affiliates

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Winborne Macphail, senior vice president of sales and market development with Surgical Care Affiliates, answers questions on one of the most pressing issues in the ASC industry: physician recruitment.

Question: How can ASC leaders identify potential physicians to bring new cases or investment to the center?

Winborne Macphail: With the increase in physician employment and heavy competition for ASC investors, recruitment efforts are increasingly becoming more complicated. To successfully recruit physicians into ASCs, our SCA leadership teams implement the following action items to ensure success:

1.    Perform a market assessment to identify all surgeons in their market and their affiliations.  
2.    Develop a recruitment plan by dedicating time with their leadership team to determine service and specialty offerings and create a profile for what their facility's "ideal" physician might look like.
3.    Perform due diligence on their physician prospect list by utilizing their facility team and current physicians to narrow the list to those most suited for their facility and seek ways to gain warm introductions.  
4.    Develop a value statement for each introduction that is customized to each physician and focused on why they should consider your facility.  

Q: As market saturation grows, how do ASC leaders need to change strategies used in the past?

WM: As markets become more saturated, health systems are tightening their volume reigns and physicians are generally hesitant to move their cases. To protect and grow their volume, ASCs must take a creative and active approach and think beyond traditional marketing strategies. ASC leaders must provide a higher level of service to their existing physician base and engage them regularly to discuss their partnership status and additional needs.

ASCs must also develop programs to create new referrals for their facilities, working, for example, with primary care physicians and employers to identify surgery needs and providing direct access for consumers to schedule their procedures. More than four years ago, we introduced the Physician Office Liaison role at SCA facilities to develop and grow relationships with our physicians and their practices.  

Q: How can ASCs work with physician recruiters to their advantage?

WM: For anyone who has attempted to recruit surgeons, you understand how time consuming it can be and the many rejections, obstacles and expectations that accompany the process. Investments in professional recruiters are often struck from the planning process for cost concerns, without considering top line revenue generation, speed to results, increased bottom line, and ability for operational leaders to remain focused on strengthening their team and improving their service.  
These professionals are highly skilled in opening doors and developing a qualified target list. They provide the intense, on the ground effort required to ensure your facility is customer facing and not missing any opportunities for growth.  At SCA, we invested in a team of professional recruiters and created a focused training and management program to enhance their success.  These recruiters are assigned to individual facilities and act as part of the facility's growth team.

Q: How can ASC leaders use market tools to identify the best strategy for physician recruitment in their area?

WM: ASC leaders should routinely undergo strategic planning processes to develop their strategy and take into consideration all internal and external impacts on their ability to successfully recruit new physicians.  Completing a SWOT analysis requires placing your facility in front of the mirror and asking "What are my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?" This allows you to enhance your value proposition to potential physicians and highlights areas of improvement you may need to address.

Once you have developed your internal strategy, market tools are available to assist ASC leaders in the process of developing the recruitment strategy. HealthLeaders-Interstudy (HLI) reports provide data on the overall market picture and listings of competitive facilities and physicians can be obtained from your local or state organizations.  Additionally, internet search engines, secret shopping, and networking are effective in providing useful information. At SCA, we utilize our proprietary tools, including MDetective™ and ECO System™, to identify physicians in a given market and group them based on case profitability. This enables us to take a holistic view of the market and assists in developing our strategy.

Q: Aside from outstanding patient care, how can ASCs position themselves as an attractive option for physicians?

WM: I have found that physicians share three common desires when discussing their surgical practice.  They want clinical excellence at the forefront, they want to remain independent while gaining a competitive edge via partnerships, and they want balance to ensure quality of life for themselves and their families. ASCs provide a unique environment to exceed these expectations, allowing physician to improve all aspects of their practice and lifestyle.  ASCs are convenient, cost effective and efficient options that allow physicians to share these benefits with their patients as an extension of their office practice.

Additionally, physicians are not often aware of the growing number of procedures that can be performed in an ASC and the hours that can be gained by performing procedures more efficiently in an ASC setting.  Thorough reviews of specialty, sub-specialty and procedure offerings, in addition to available equipment and supplies, should be performed and compared to competing facilities. A willingness to add Retina to an existing eye program, or to be the first in your market to do a Total Joint or use a new blade can make the difference in you opening the door to a surgeon you are interested in attracting. Growing your business is no longer just about increasing market share, you have to win share.  

More Articles on ASC Issues:
Putting the Top 10 Safety Measures in Place in an ASC
Simplify ASC Supply Chain: 4 Tips From Administrator Dominic Vendetta
ASC vs. HOPD Reimbursement: 2014 Outlooks & Trends

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