10 insights from ASC leaders in 2018

Here are 10 key insights ASC leaders shared in 2018 on how to handle challenges and take advantage of opportunities:

1. Reimbursement changes and increasing deductibles. Austin, Texas-based Hyde Park Surgery Center Administrator and Texas Ambulatory Surgery Center Society member Jami Osterlund, RN, BSN, was featured on "Membership Monday," where she shared her insights on the top challenges for ASCs today.

"The postoperative complication rate and risk for surgical site infections is significantly less in comparison to the same procedures performed in the hospital," Ms. Osterlund said. "These quality measure findings and patient outcomes need more public awareness so that patients start demanding that their surgeries take place in an ASC."

2. Lowering healthcare costs through price transparency. Ty Tippets, the administrator of the St. George Surgical Center, shared his experience testifying before the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee about how ASCs can lower healthcare costs through price transparency with the Salt Lake Tribune.

In his testimony, Mr. Tippets urged the senators to consider initiatives such as universally providing patients with quality information, price transparency adoption and encouraging insurers, Medicare and other payers to urge physicians to refer patients to lower cost settings.

3. The addition of total joints can make a surgery center successful. Naples, Fla.-based Seaside Surgery Center Administrator Cindy Schuetz told  Becker's ASC Review what has made her center so successful and how other ASCs can follow its lead.

"Many of our patients almost become part of our Seaside family. It is a very unique group of special employees who take extra special care of our patients. It truly is a unique place to work. Even surgeons who come here for the first time comment on the teamwork and closeness of our staff. That attitude permeates all we do," Ms. Schuetz said. 

4. Patient retention. Orthopaedic Surgery Center of Illinois Director Kim Schultz, BSN, RN, told Becker's ASC Review about the center's recent affiliation, its major successes and how it caters to patients.

"Our patient satisfaction with the services at the ASC has historically been very good. I believe patients would rather visit here for many reasons. We provide a very personal experience by developing a personal relationship with all our patients, which starts prior to the day of their procedure. Our location allows us to provide an environment that isn't over-crowded [like] most hospitals, where parking is easier, it's a small building and everything is within walking distance. Patients and surgeons love our turnaround. Our delays are few and our waits are limited. Patients love it. Our surgeons feel they can perform more procedures, improving their time management," Ms. Schultz said.

5. Strategic planning for sustained growth. Administrator of Colchester, Vt.-based Green Mountain Surgery Center John Paoni examined the critical factors affecting ASCs today and how his center will proceed for sustained growth.

"As healthcare costs continue to rise, I believe we will see expansion of the ASCs within the U.S. Same-day surgery is convenient, less costly to patients and carriers and can offer a better, more efficient care model than a hospital-based surgery center. Physicians are able to perform surgeries with greater efficiency. There will be less wait time for the patient and the surgeon in the ASC setting," Mr. Paoni said.

6. Boosting referrals. Lori Brenner designed the Physicianology platform for Tea Leaves Health, a Welltok Company, to help healthcare executives and physician relations professionals strategically grow their organizations. Ms. Brenner shared her insight on increasing referrals with Becker's ASC Review.

"There are several ways to increase referrals. First, implement a call center to capture where the referral is coming from at the time of the appointment; this will help organizations keep track of that and monitor the accuracy of those capture rates.." Ms. Brenner said. 

7. Increasing case volume. Since 2009, almost 50 percent of newly opened ASCs have closed, according to 2015 Advisory Board data. Mnet Health Services CEO David Hamilton penned a list of strategies ASCs can leverage to avoid that fate.

"Case volume can be boosted through partnerships, whether between physicians and ASCs or hospitals and ASCs. Physicians given ownership in an ASC become invested in the center's growth. Hospitals in joint venture partnerships with ASCs can transfer low-reimbursement cases to the ASCs, freeing up their ORs for high-reimbursement cases.," Mr. Hamilton said.

8. Successful ASC management through leadership. Sandy Berreth, RN, of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Foothill Surgery Center at Sansum Clinic, has 20 years of experience as an ASC administrator. Here are her top seven tips for ASC leaders.

"Build trust, let other know you are on their side, correct mistakes, but remember to do it with calmly and without anger," Ms. Berreth said.

9. Core leadership traits. ASC industry leader, podcaster and author John Goehle of Ambulatory Healthcare Strategies penned a list of seven key traits to look for when recruiting surgery center leaders, owners and governing body members.

"As [directors] of the organization, they are tasked with enforcing the organization’s policies and assuring compliance with regulatory requirements. This will periodically put them in conflict with the surgeons," Mr. Goehle said.

10. Start an outpatient total joint program. Boston Out-Patient Surgical Suites Administrator Greg DeConciliis detailed how the center established its total joint program, and trends and goals for ASCs moving forward.

"My advice for facilities is not to just jump in to this thinking it's just adding another service line. [ASCs] should be sure that they have done an accurate facility assessment, and make sure everyone is on board with this huge undertaking. [They then should] put together a group of all the key stakeholders, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and administration. [and have that group] develop a clinical pathway on how [the center is] going to take the patents through the facility, all the way from patient selection to home care and follow-up appointments," Mr. DeConciliis said.

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