'Filling the gaps is increasingly challenging': What we heard this week

Healthcare providers spoke with Becker's on a number of topics this week, including the largest disrupters in the industry, private equity and lessons from the year.

What we heard this week:

5 major hurdles for ASCs
Joe Peluso. Administrator of Aestique Surgery Center (Greensburg, Pa.)
: ASCs, as well as healthcare systems, face workforce challenges, many of which were present prior to the pandemic and are now only exacerbated and accelerated. The reality is that if the gaps in healthcare employment and wages are not quickly addressed, with the projected higher growth in the elderly and vulnerable populations, we will face a serious inability for adequate staffing to meet the healthcare needs of our communities.

Consumerism, labor costs & more: The ASC industry's biggest disrupters
Zachary Welch. Administrator, Wake Orthopaedics (Raleigh, N.C.)
: The continued expansion of procedures that will move from inpatient only to the ASC environment will continue to force ASCs to remain innovative and capable of taking on these services. Continued advancements in anesthesia, pain management and postoperative care have positively reinforced the shift of cases that were previously viewed as only possible within the four walls of a hospital.

What ASC leaders learned this year
Joleen Harrison. Administrator of Grand Valley Surgical Center (Grand Junction, Colo.)
: The lesson I have learned through this past year is: Anything can happen. We may not always be prepared. However, being proactive by staying on top of the situation by using state ASC associations or the national ASCA as a resource helped me to forecast for our ASC and where we may be headed. The second most important [lesson] is communication with our team [and] giving factual information at the time it is happening. The last personal lesson as a leader is to accept the fact that at times, I may not know what to do, and it is OK to say it to the team. In any crisis situation, gather as much information as possible, use your resources, include your team and stay the course.

The biggest trends 3 ASC CEOs are following
Tina Piotrowski. CEO, Copper Ridge Surgery Center (Traverse City, Mich.)
: One of the top priorities is maintaining a competent, well-trained workforce in a highly competitive market. Like many ASCs, we face competition for staff from hospitals that offer attractive sign-on bonuses and often much higher wages. Since the pandemic, we have seen a number of our clinical staff wanting to reduce their hours due to school and child care issues related to COVID. We are working hard to offer more flexible part-time positions, but filling the gaps is increasingly challenging.

We're starting an initiative that is going to allow us to collect feedback from employees at each department as far as how to have a more flexible work-life balance and how to meet the needs of the center while also meeting personal needs.

Pros, cons of private equity in gastroenterology
Rami Abbass, MD. Gastroenterologist at University Hospitals (Mentor, Ohio)
: The physician partners and private equity firm need to reach a deep understanding of the regional competitive landscape and have a shared vision of where value can be created — such as in operational enhancements, market share growth, cost reductions, expansion in ancillary services and enhanced negotiations. Discussions within practices are further complicated by risk tolerance — private equity funds are frequently heavily leveraged — and the age of the partners in the practice. It appears in the current landscape that private equity interest in gastroenterology will continue to see growing momentum for the near future, and physicians will have to continue to weigh the pros and cons it presents.

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