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5 Key Items for 2013 ASC Strategic Plans

Tom Scott on ASC strategic plansH. Thomas Scott, director of operations for Surgical Management Professionals, discusses five key concepts for strategic planning for surgery centers in 2013.

1. Market opportunities. Every market has different opportunities for surgery centers to grow and become more successful next year. Whether you are a single or multispecialty ASC, understand your physicians' capabilities and whether they will be able to expand their services in the future.

"Know your market and whether there are additional patients and physicians that can be recruited," says Mr. Scott. "Can your surgeons do more procedures within their specialty? Know what your physicians are capable of and what opportunities are available in your market."

The biggest opportunity right now is in orthopedics. Surgery centers are looking to capture high acuity cases, such as total joint replacements and spine surgery. However, performing these cases often means having 23-hour stay capabilities. Another opportunity to drive additional cases and revenue would be extending operating hours during the week or adding cases on the weekends.

2. Education on regulations.
There will be several new regulations for ambulatory surgery centers over the next few years, and strategic plans should include employee education and training in the budget. Two key changes for next year will be quality reporting and the transition to ICD-10.

"I think the biggest challenge we are going to face this next year is educating physicians and staff for the new rules under ObamaCare," says Mr. Scott. "There has been a lot of uncertainty within the physician community about what is going to happen, and now that the election is over some of the fear has been alleviated and we can now move forward with quality reporting and ICD-10 requirements."

Surgery centers that have already begun planning for these changes have a head start, but it's not too late to successfully integrate quality reporting and ICD-10 into next year's strategic plan. ASCs can bring in experts to discuss the changes or send leaders from the team out for training.

"I would encourage facilities to educate themselves on these changes now," says Mr. Scott. "If you wait until the last minute, you will be overwhelmed and it could be devastating to the business office staff and your bottom line."

3. Surgeon communication. Surgery center administrators can take a more proactive approach to driving patient volume at their surgery center next year by improving communication with the surgeons and making sure they are part of the strategic planning process.

"We need to know what the physician is thinking  and what they are experiencing so we can improve their experience at our facility and increase patient satisfaction," says Mr. Scott. "Have the physicians and staff involved in developing and implementing your strategic plan. Without them, it won't be successful."

Look at both short term and long term goals with the physicians so they know what's on the table for 2013 and beyond.

"The most important elements to your plan will include upgrading equipment, acquiring new equipment and implementing new technology," says Mr. Scott. "Information technology will be a big part of the plan in the future, so look at where new technology can be implemented to improve efficiency. Tablets for  the clinical staff  or radio-frequency identification chips (RFID) for  inventory control are just a few examples."

4. Increased community  presence. There are several reasons for surgery centers to explore ways to increase their community presence. A bigger presence could drive more patients to the center as well as build a strong reputation for future collaborative opportunities.

"I think you are going to see a need for physicians and surgery centers to increase their presence in the community," says Mr. Scott. "You are going to see accountable care organizations (ACOs) starting to pick up some bandwidth in the market and you have to be a leader in the community so you can help direct those conversations."

Also consider ways your surgery center can build a stronger relationship with local hospitals, physician groups and other providers in the community. This could be just a working relationship or exploring the potential for a joint venture in the future.

"Have a good working relationship with primary care physicians as well," says Mr. Scott. "Moving forward, there will be a demand for cooperation with everyone in the community versus standing alone on your own island."

5. Expand revenue.
Most businesses frame their strategic plan around expanding their revenue base. Surgery centers can do this by bringing in new procedures to the facility—like spine or bariatric. These types of initiative require intense time and planning.

"In both instances, you have to work with your staff to make sure they feel comfortable providing good quality care for those cases," says Mr. Scott. "Encourage physicians to become more involved with the facility and evaluate whether any new equipment will help them perform more cases there."

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