Spotting a Top-Level Employee: 4 Tips for Surgery Center Recruitment

Recruiting top-level employees is a challenge in any business, but will be especially important for surgery centers in a changing healthcare environment.

Jill Sackman"If you look at it from a broader environmental context, all of healthcare in the United States is facing a perfect storm; there is a shift in the industry related to changes in health policy, a really challenging environment from a reimbursement perspective, changes from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and from new delivery and payment models like accountable care organizations, patient centered medical homes, and bundled payments," says Jill Sackman, DVM, PhD, senior consultant with Numerof & Associates. "This all has implications for how healthcare is delivered from a cost and quality perspective. We are on an unsustainable financial trajectory in this country and we have to address quality and cost."

Several of these changes have had an impact on the surgery center industry, and individual ASCs are looking at ways to cut costs and improve efficiency and quality, despite already being considered a low cost, high quality provider.

"For a surgery center, we want to make sure the surgeon's time is used cost effectively, that we have positive outcomes and we are using appropriate implants," says Dr. Sackman. "We need to track how patients are doing in a broader patient base (e.g. population) versus anecdotal individual patients. This all has impact on payment and there has been a lot of consolidation in the industry; physicians are joining hospitals, which increases competition, and the centers are becoming part of a very competitive business community. Surgery centers are going to feel these things really acutely, so adaptability among staff members is critical."

Here are five ways to ensure you are hiring high quality staff members who will flourish in the surgery center setting.

1. Recruit people who are customer-service oriented. In the past, medical professionals could be more focused on their clinical responsibilities and have less than stellar rapport with patients; today, that type of behavior will be less tolerated. As providers are competing for patients and ranked by patient satisfaction, customer service has become increasingly important among surgery center personnel.

"Recruit people who can handle the more customer service focused challenges," says Dr. Sackman. "These people should be able to look at the cost and quality impact of their actions. Those are skill sets nurses and surgeons don't traditionally have. Also, they have to collaborate; they may not have had to traditionally do this."

Make sure any new staff members you bring in are onboard with your surgery center's policies on patient interaction and able to give patients the most pleasant experience possible.

2. Find indicators of resilience in the resume.
The strongest candidates for positions in a surgery center will be those who faced challenges in the past and were able to overcome them with a smile.

"When you are recruiting, look for a resume where the individual has been able to bounce back from setbacks, have a positive attitude and really impact change," says Dr. Sackman. "Sometimes this could be a project they championed but was tabled, so they became part of a different project."

It's also attractive to see someone who has participated in multiple roles with their previous employers or has experience with job rotation. "Job sharing or rotational assignments are a tip off to me that the candidate has been open to doing something different," says Dr. Sackman. "At the surgery center, they may need to work in different areas to learn new service lines or gain another perspective."

3. Conduct a behavioral interview to make sure they are adaptable.
Flexibility and adaptability will be important for any healthcare provider going forward, so you want to make sure any staff members you bring on will be able to keep up with those changes. You can do this during the behavioral interview where you can examine the candidate's thought process and innovation, how they have handled difficult issues or convinced a colleague or superior to try something new.

"I usually ask the employee to provide a context or scenario where they have demonstrated their innovation and creativity," says Dr. Sackman. "This should be a situation where the employee engaged a skeptical colleague or boss and brought them on board with their ideas. That way I can identify their adaptability and openness to change."

Look for someone who is willing to take on new activities and talk with them about different approaches or projects that may be coming up.

4. Check for intellectual flexibility.
Being able to adjust to change quickly is important, but you also want to make sure new employees will contribute to innovation at the center. Question the employee about their ideas and gauge their ability to problem solve creatively.

"I talk with candidates about whether they have been part of process change in the past and what their role was; this way I can see how open minded the individual is and whether they have intellectual flexibility," says Dr. Sackman. "They should share examples of when they have integrated new ideas and solved problems so you can see how adaptable their behavior has been and whether they are capable of thinking differently. You really have to talk to people and challenge them with your questions — ask for specific examples of how they have previously handled difficult situations."

The last person you want to bring into the surgery center is someone who will block new initiatives or resist change. "Look to see if they are an agent for change or how they help their colleagues get their job done versus being the gate keeper or naysayer in a particular process," says Dr. Sackman.

More Articles on Surgery Centers:

Bundled Payments, Narrow Networks & Acquisitions: 5 ASC Reimbursement Trends to Expect in 2013

5 Trends Affecting Common ASC Specialties

10 Steps to Maximize Reimbursement for Total Joint Replacement at Surgery Centers

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