8 Areas to Reinvest in an ASC

Physician-owners need to continually reinvest in their surgery centers to make sure the facilities are safe, well- run and attract patients, says Mike Lipomi, president and CEO of Surgical Management Professionals in Sioux Falls, S.D., which runs 11 ASCs and one physician-owned hospital. Here he pinpoints eight areas to reinvest in.

1. Buy new technology. Management has to take a fiscally responsible yet forward-thinking approach to new technology. "In some cases the technology is not going to bring in more money, but it could still improve quality of care," Mr. Lipomi says. "The beauty for physicians owning a center is they can say, 'We need this technology.' "

2. Maintain the physical plant. In addition to maintaining clinical equipment, make sure your center looks inviting. The floors, walls and ceilings should be in good shape. Cracked tiles present a risk of infections. The look of the place has an effect on patients. "Patients may not understand the quality of care, but they do understand cleanliness, and they associate cleanliness with quality of care," Mr. Lipomi says.

3. Invest in staff education. A properly educated staff will be efficient and safe. "Everyone should be educated and it should be done regularly," Mr. Lipomi says. Even housekeeping staff should be educated so that they are aware of such matters as keeping areas sterile. It does not have to cost a lot. "In most cases, there will be plenty of opportunities to find the education you need locally," he adds.

4. Provide adequate salaries. Even very satisfied staff members can jump to other facilities that pay more. Salary benchmarks can be obtained from the Ambulatory Surgery Association and Physician Hospitals of America.  

5. Maintain adequate staffing levels. Low staffing levels lead to dissatisfied patients, overworked employees and errors. But there is no exact benchmark for the correct staffing level because it depends on such factors as patient acuity.

6. Invest in outreach.
Outreach increases public awareness of the center. Surgeon-owners may want to volunteer to talk about their work and their facilities at service clubs like the Kiwanis, senior homes and schools. Orthopedic surgeons may help out sports teams and talk about sports injuries. Clinical staff may offer health screenings checking blood pressure, glucose levels and cholesterol.

7. Keep patients informed. The center should provide instructions to patients both pre- and post-operatively. This will help assure the operation runs smoothly and recovery progresses as planned.   

8. Keep striving. Lastly, "remember what made you great," Mr. Lipomi said. "When you forget that, you start to go downhill." He takes a lesson from the restaurant industry. "When the restaurant was little," he says, "Mama made the pasta sauce. Then it got bigger, but Mama no longer made the pasta sauce and the food wasn't so good anymore. It can happen to surgery centers, too."  

Learn more about Surgical Management Professionals.

Read more insight from the team at Surgical Management Professionals:

-5 Achievable Goals for ASCs in 2011 From Michael Lipomi of Surgical Management Professionals

-8 New Taxes Coming From Obamacare

-4 Trends Impacting ASCs and Physician-Owned Hospitals From Blake Curd

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