'Super Saturdays' are appealing to ASCs and staff during surgical backlogs

Many ASCs continue to address surgical backlogs that healthcare facilities saw skyrocket since the COVID-19 pandemic, but one straightforward strategy is doing a great deal to keep surgery centers and their staff happy.

The backlog of services, which could take years for some centers to recover from depending on the specialty and site of care, has led some hospitals and ASCs to adopt a "Super Saturday" strategy, increasing scheduling flexibility by implementing a special weekend block for high-volume surgeries.

Super Saturdays are helping many ASCs catch up with procedures that were postponed earlier in the pandemic, and opening on weekends offers employees an opportunity to take home additional income.

"A lot of staff like it because during COVID they've lost wages through times that they've been forced to take time off or times where they've been forced to take PTO to take care of their kids," Jeff Peters, CEO of consulting firm Surgical Directions, said during a Becker's webinar March 3. "Staff are very anxious to try to find a way to accommodate it."

Central to keeping both staff members and surgeons happy and engaged during a weekend block is not mandating that any employee come in on a Saturday or Sunday; it needs to be voluntary.

"If you're interested, we'll give you premium pay or add to your PTO bank," Mr. Peters said. "The nice part about doing it this way is you have surgeons who are very motivated to do it; they can typically get twice as many cases done in eight hours than a normal day, and it's a better experience for both the surgeon and the patient."

Another key component is the surgeon operating during weekend blocks. The ideal candidate for an ASC would be a surgeon who knows how to expedite cases and is comfortable working out of two rooms.

"Productivity is a key goal, so make sure the surgeon has a panel of low-risk patients who are unlikely to require extended operative time," Mr. Peters said.

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