5 Factors That Attract Physician Investors to Surgery Centers

Surgery centers immersed in physician recruitment should focus on anticipating and meeting the prospective physician's needs, says Blayne Rush, president of Ambulatory Alliances, a management firm that focuses on surgery center brokerage and physician recruitment.

"Physicians are looking to get a return on their investment," he says. "They're looking for somewhere that is easy for them to practice, where their patients are happy and taken care of, and that has a strong and positive reputation in the marketplace."

Mr. Rush shares five appealing factors that physicians look for when choosing to invest in a surgery center.

1. Show that the surgery center is profitable. Interested physicians will want to know if the center is profitable or has developed a plan to achieve profitability, says Mr. Rush. "Some physicians will say that they don't do a lot of procedures and just want to use the center as a tool to provide easy access for my patients, but for the most part, they want to know that there's a plan in place to ensure that the center is profitable," he says.

Profitable surgery centers should show the center's balance sheet to potential physicians, and those that are less profitable should present the physician with a plan for performance growth. "You have to say, 'Here's what 200 more orthopedic cases would do to the bottom line. If you came on board and we added 200 cases, this is what the typical cases pay, these are the expenses that we'd have to add to the center to bring those cases on, and this is what the profits would look like,'" says Mr. Rush. "Show what the center's future performance would look like based on those added cases."

2. Show that the surgery center is conveniently located. Prospective physicians will also weigh location and convenience when determining whether to invest in a center. They will consider the distance from the clinic to their office, the ease of bringing patients to the center given where their patient pool is located and the flexibility of staff and operating room scheduling, says Mr. Rush.

3. Show that the center is transparent. From an investment standpoint, physicians are looking for operational transparency. "How transparently is the center operated?" Mr. Rush says. "Do physicians get to see the books? Are they involved in the decision-making process of what equipment to buy, how to divvy up the block time or what days the center is open? Where is the money coming from, and where is it going? Who owns what percentage of the surgery center?"

Physicians will also want to know that they can market themselves independently of current investors. "Some don't want joint marketing efforts, because they don't want their name associated with another physician," Mr. Rush says.

4. Show that the center staff members are consistent. According to Mr. Rush, physicians want to feel comfortable and familiar with the clinical staff members, and they want to know that the same staff members will be available consistently without turnover. "Physicians don't want to see different staff and team each time they go to the center," he says. "They want to know that the anesthesia providers, nurses and surgical techs are consistent. A physician might say, 'I'm familiar with this anesthesia provider, he knows how I work, and I don't want a different provider to show up instead.'"

5. Show that the center's other physicians are invested and involved. Prospective physicians will want to know that current physicians are not only invested in the center, but performing surgeries, says Mr. Rush. "They want to see that the physicians that are there now are committed to the success of the center — that they are active in doing cases, active in managing and active in making the center a success. It's very important to them that they know going in who the physicians are and that they have a say-so in who the new physicians are going forward."

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