The ASC management strategy that will likely lead to failure — 3 expert insights

Successful ASC leadership requires flexibility, responsiveness and talent retention, according to Greg Zoch, partner at Kaye/Bassman International and managing director of the ambulatory surgery and surgical hospital practice.

Mr. Zoch shared his thoughts on ASC staffing and management challenges with Becker's ASC Review.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What's the biggest recruitment challenge facing ASCs today? How can centers overcome that staffing obstacle?

Greg Zoch: With demand and volume increasing due to an expanded procedure list, aging baby boomers and greater public awareness of the value of ASCs, consistent staffing is likely the No. 1 recruitment challenge. The best way to hire and retain the best staff is to hire and retain the best leadership. Solid administrators/CEOs and [directors of nursing]/clinical directors attract and retain the best teams. That brings up the second greatest recruitment challenge ASCs face: attracting and retaining great administrators/CEOs and DONs/clinical directors.

Q: What mindset is essential to success as an ASC administrator, director or CEO?

GZ: Flexibility and responsiveness. The most successful administrators/CEOs and DONs/clinical directors I've known over the last 17-plus years while doing executive search for ASCs and surgical hospitals are those who have great situational awareness then [adapt] as necessary, and those who respond promptly and appropriately given the situation and personalities involved. And that's not easy at all. But the impact of being flexible and responding quickly (and appropriately) is what builds high-performing teams and defines great leadership. It is evidenced by higher clinical outcomes, greater profits and lower turnover.

Q: On the flip side, what ASC management characteristics or strategies will likely lead to failure? How can those pitfalls be avoided?

GZ: Managing by the numbers alone and being reactionary (rather than responsive) are two complaints I hear often. Of course, the numbers are important. Profits pay the bills and create distributions and bonuses! But the best people want to have a positive impact and to have a voice in how the enterprise runs, without feeling that it's profits above care. They also want and deserve to be fairly compensated. Helping everyone understand the rationale behind operational and financial decisions gives them the feeling that leadership cares about them and the provision of quality care. Managing by the numbers alone and poor communication can actually reduce efficiency and profits. It can also decrease job satisfaction and increase turnover.

Running an ASC or surgical hospital is much like the science and art of medicine. There's the science part (the numbers: operational and clinical benchmarks) and then there's the art part (the interpersonal relations and people). Getting it right is often a balancing act that adept leaders understand and embrace.

Interested in participating in future Becker's Q&As? Email Angie Stewart at astewart@beckershealthcare.com.

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