Administrator Suzi Walton on how Ohio Surgery Center embraces price transparency

The Ohio Surgery Center has been offering transparent pricing since its inception. Administrator Suzi Walton told Becker's ASC Review how the process has been transitioning the ASC to a new way of offering that transparency and why other surgery centers should follow suit. 

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: Can you speak a little about what the process has been like transitioning your ASC to Clariti?

Suzi Walton: I have found Clariti to be uber responsive at helping to ensure a smooth transition. I loved the BuildMyBod solution that we started with initially, but I wanted to customize it to the patients’ specific benefits and out-of-pocket expenses in an automated way. I was impressed to find that the benefits Clariti pulls from the insurance payers is 100 percent accurate without intervention. They have feeds that pull from the major ASC software products that create an immediate data flow straight into Clariti as soon as your patients are scheduled, saving time and effort for ASC staff.

We currently schedule with service codes; we are in the process of refining these to be more specific to allow for less manual tweaking of the Current Procedural Terminology codes before estimation generation. We have just branched into the Catalyst product that allows anyone, any time to access an estimate for our top pediatric services (all areas that we are hoping to grow business). It returns an estimate that is catered to their insurance, surgery and remaining benefits to help them anticipate their out-of-pocket costs to be able to price shop.

We are currently working to expand the services listed for self-service in Catalyst and are working with Clariti to incorporate the full cost of service that includes anesthesia and the surgeon fee as well.

Q: What advice would you give to other administrators wanting to embrace price transparency?

SW: I have said it before, but my best advice is to just start! ASCs have a fabulous history of amazing quality/outcomes and cost savings to tell. This two-pronged approach of transparency and quality exemplifies value that is hard to beat. Don’t be afraid to scale your project. Breaking it into bite-sized pieces makes it less daunting and lets you tweak your plan if needed. The ASC industry as a whole are some of the most helpful professionals out there; don’t hesitate to reach out to someone that is doing it already to brainstorm. When we co-create solutions, we drive the industry forward. Then once you have embraced it, taut it to all your referring sources.

Healthcare Bluebook has a great free tool for referring physicians that will tell your story for you if you point them in the right direction.

Q: Do you think more ASCs will be using price transparency systems like Clariti in the coming years? Why or why not?

SW: I think as the conversations rise to the federal level, the public is going to become more and more aware of site of service differentials. The public or payers will eventually force this conversation of cost savings; my hope is that ASCs are in front of this trend and ride the wave. I have been a price transparency advocate for over 20 years, but I feel that affordable technology that is creating true actionable data is finally here. This technology takes the human error out of giving estimates based on true allowables, not billed charges, and making it obtainable for any center that is wanting to embrace it.

Q: Given that the Ohio Surgery Center recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, what changes or growth opportunities are you looking forward to?

SW: We are so excited about our next 20 years as we strategically look into the future. We are planning lots more refining and evolving with price transparency to include public and provider outreach with more educational events.

Additionally, a growth mindset is not only a corporate endeavor, but we are making concerted efforts as to how we invest in our greatest asset, our employees. We currently have 20 employees voluntarily participating in a 12-week internal course on conversational intelligence to help elevate our conversations and partnering not only within our facility but also in our personal lives. At the five-week mark, I am blown away by the conversations and growth that is occurring and can’t wait to see how that leads the way to creation of more innovation and “wow moments” for our patients.

We are really challenging ourselves and our old processes to see how to add even more value, continuity, and/or efficiency to our community, referring providers and patients to really differentiate us from any competition.

It seems data is the driving force between all these initiatives. We seem to always be trying to find ways to obtain the right data more efficiently. I really can’t wait to see what the future holds.

To participate in future Becker's Q&As, contact Rachel Popa at rpopa@beckershealthcare.com.

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