5 ASC Industry Leaders Weigh in on Physician Recruitment

ASC industry leaders, practitioners and administrators share physician recruitment tips for surgery centers, including marketing to, selecting and negotiating with prospective physicians.

1. Joe Zasa, co-founder of ASD Management

Physicians and anesthesia providers should be recruited to work within the existing routine and culture of the surgery center, says Mr. Zasa. Anesthesia groups should be able to turn rooms quickly, choose appropriate drugs for the surgery center and have a strong interest in the quality aspects of the ASC. "You want anesthesiologists and CRNAs who have an interest in outpatient surgery," he says. The same is true for physicians: Every physician recruited to the center should fit within the center's strategic plan, bringing a needed specialty and an eye towards quality improvement. The physician should also get along well with the other providers at the center.

2. Joan Shearer, administrator of Lawrence (Kan.) Surgery Center

The initial phase in physician recruitment should involve a site visit for physician and spouse, says Ms. Shearer. They should be allowed to tour the surgery center, have dinner out with current physicians and explore the local community if they don't already live there. If the physician and spouse are staying at a hotel during their site visit, Ms. Shearer recommends arranging for a basket of "goodies" to be in the room when the physician arrives. She also recommends determining the spouse's interests ahead of time and then bringing the spouse to dinner and giving him or her a tour of the local community and schools.

3. Richard Kube, MD, CEO, founder and owner of Prairie Spine and Pain Institute in Peoria, Ill.

Direct-to-consumer marketing can improve volume in heavily employed areas and help to offset limited referrals from primary care physicians, says Dr. Kube. "If patients are coming to us directly, hospitals and employed physicians have less control over where we can do the procedure," he says. "It has required us to be a lot more active in marketing so that we can get those referrals on our own instead of having to rely on primary care physicians to send cases to us." Marketing a practice or surgery center can involve making and regularly updating a website, posting ads in the local newspaper and advertising in local hotspots to build patient traffic.

4. Christy Franck, administrator at Montgomery Surgery Center in Rockville, Md.

Approaching the physician recruitment process with a "customer service" mindset is important in distinguishing oneself from a competing center, and this includes a willingness to make concessions to satisfy the physician, Ms. Franck says. Once a physician's preferences and concerns are on the table, it's up to the center to weigh the cost of accommodating a physician against the revenue that his or her cases will bring to the center. If an ENT surgeon expresses a preference for a certain type of ear tubes, for example, the center is typically willing to purchase that product in order to bring the physician in.

"From a business standpoint, it's beneficial to accommodate a physician if you can," says Ms. Franck. "Physicians appreciate us listening to them and finding out what it is that they would like to see happen in the center. If we can help them, they'll bring their business to us."

5. Blayne Rush, president of Ambulatory Alliances

According to Mr. Rush, physician recruitment should be an agenda item at every board meeting. Physicians should identify which prospects the ASC should be reaching out to. "Ask physician-owners to come prepared to put forth a few names of physicians and a little background, if known, so that that physician can be pursued," says Mr. Rush. "Part of the ASC's plan should be to have a continually updated target list of physicians in the community that should be contacted and a list of physicians coming into the community for future consideration."

The success of the outpatient surgery centers requires a total "all hands on deck" approach, he adds. "Complacency and the wrong mindset is a major contributor of the under performance of the surgery center, and the center's top priority is to ensure that the partners and providers are always engaged," says Mr. Rush. "Therefore, you can present this strategy for increased internal case load recruitment, as well as more active and on-going external case load recruitment, as an exciting chance to grow the benefits for all the center's owners."

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