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How to run a successful ASC, joint venture or independent — An administrator's insight

Both independent and joint venture ASCs present opportunities and challenges. Kecia Norling, RN, CNOR, CASC, administrator of Portland, Ore.-based Northwest Ambulatory Surgery Center, an affiliate of United Surgical Partners International, can vouch for that. She has been in charge of both types of centers, and enjoyed each experience.

"There's something really romantic about that independent center — it's your surgeon and it's your staff and it's your patients," says Ms. Norling. "It's a very true form of USPI headshots-KNmedicine."

That said, Ms. Norling realizes the power an ASC garners from aligning with a corporate partner. Although more structured processes accompany a joint venture, so do more resources.

"At this particular moment in time, it's so important to understand your insurance contracts and to have good control of your supplies and staffing," says Ms. Norling. "The corporate side gives you so many tools so that you can do that really well."

Ms. Norling particularly appreciates the support from corporate in her position as an Ambulatory Surgery Center Association board member. The role has exposed her to the ASC industry through a national lens, where she involves herself in legislative and regulatory issues.

"I love being a part of thinking about what is going to happen, not next year, but in five years, and preparing our industry for what is going to occur," said Ms. Norling.

Certainly equipped for a job on the frontline of change, Ms. Norling has nearly 30 years of experience as a registered nurse and also served as a clinical director. Although she "accidently fell" into the ASC industry in 1999 when she helped an orthopedic surgeon open a center in Idaho, she coins it a "really good accident."

"It feels satisfying to be a part of something this is making a positive difference in healthcare," Ms. Norling says. "It's easy to have that passion in ASCs."

Her experience as a nurse complements her role as an administrator well, as she also immerses herself in the clinical side of the center. Connecting with every part of her center has strengthened Ms. Norling's role as an administrator.

"I would tell [administrators] to learn every facet of their surgery center so they personally understand all departments," she says. Actively interacting with the state and national associations also benefits ASCs, as it allows centers to stay on top of regulation changes. Ms. Norling strongly encourages administrators to take their centers through the accreditation process, as it will only strengthen the ASC.

Staff morale also proves essential to an ASC's success, as patients notice happy employees.

"Develop relationships with all your surgeons, and make sure you're personally speaking to them each time they're in the center," says Ms. Norling. "You want your surgeons to feel like there's no place they'd rather work."

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