Surgery centers share accomplishments and lessons learned from 2019, goals for 2020

As we approach the end of the year, it's a fitting time to reflect back on 2019 while also looking forward to 2020 — another year with tremendous potential and opportunities just waiting to be seized.

We wanted to learn about the 2019 experiences and 2020 objectives of ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) throughout the country, so we reached out to the users of "The Note Pad," an online community of surgery center professionals exclusively for Surgical Notes clients.

The following responses come from representatives of more than a dozen ASCs. Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style.

What is an accomplishment your ASC achieved in 2019 that stands out?

• "We had zero deficiencies during our state survey."
• "This year has been our biggest year yet in case volume and revenue."
• "We began working toward accreditation as a Center of Excellence and are almost there."
• "We achieved Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) accreditation."
• "We won an award for the second year in a row recognizing our commitment to keeping patients safe and happy."
• "Our patient physician satisfaction scores reached all-time highs."
• "While we are a younger center — less than three years old — we still had several new surgeons seek out our facility, which increased our number of cases and subsequent revenue."
• "We completed our 500th total joint replacement surgery."

What is one lesson your ASC learned in 2019?

• "Complete due diligence with new procedures, supplies, and/or kits, regardless of what the physicians push for."
• "Improve our budgeting for conferences so more team members can attend."
• "We learned a lot about how to better control inventory items and par levels when we switched to the new materials management system."
• "Budgeting with new surgeons versus well-seasoned surgeons is a challenge."
• "Undergoing a Joint Commission survey is very different from a AAAHC survey."
• "Work smarter, not harder, when working with your physicians. Keep it simple."
• "To be successful, I must be more direct with others."
• "Reliable charting systems are a must."
• "We learned more about electronic medical records (EMRs) and the different codes coming out. These will help us stay in compliance."
• "Scheduling staff for a growing ASC can be a challenge. We have experienced growing pains in our staffing needs, which we are learning to cope with."
• "Be patient during our transition of owners."
• "Being acquired by a hospital shows you how different things happen when in a joint venture."
• "We have learned that communication between departments is critical to smooth-running days."

What goals does your ASC have for 2020?

• "To have zero areas of noncompliance during our upcoming Joint Commission re-survey."
• "Attend more conferences and increase case volume."
• "Transition from paper to EMR."
• "Increase physician recruiting and transition to EMR."
• "Update our policies and procedures in preparation for our Joint Commission accreditation survey."
• "Building a safe spine program for our community. Adding this program will give our community a choice of where to go for spine surgery."
• "Become more educated about the different areas of my department."
• "Continue to achieve great satisfaction scores and improve efficiency on chart creation."
• "Make sure our patients are happy and keep current with changes concerning rules and regulations to help our organization continue to grow."
• "Continue to grow our center while providing the high quality of care we have built our reputation on."
• "Raise patient survey scores."
• "Do more cases."
• "Try to improve our communications. There is always room for improvement."

Survey respondents pointed to growth and accreditation performance as ways of measuring their ASCs' success in 2019. Goals for the new year cited by respondents include transition from paper to electronic records, improving case volume, and performing well on accreditation surveys and satisfaction surveys. The good news for these ASCs: Looking at the lessons respondents learned in 2019, which cover areas including communication, education, and budgeting, they should be well-positioned to make 2020 an even better year.

Randy Bishop ( is president and chief executive officer for Surgical Notes. Surgical Notes is a nationwide provider of revenue cycle solutions, including, transcription, coding, revenue cycle management (RCM), and document management applications for the ASC and surgical hospital markets.


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