'Can't manage what you don't measure': 1 ASC executive's lesson in leadership

Armando Colón, founder CEO of DNA Medsolutions in Orlando, Fla., shared his insight gained from more than 17 years of healthcare leadership experience with Becker's. 

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity. If you would like to contribute to our next question, please email phaeffele@beckershealthcare.com.

Question: What would you put on an ASC management "cheat sheet"?

Armando Colón: Successful ASC management is committed to quality. ASC leadership needs to stay current with new and potential quality reporting rules. Compliance with these standards, while considered a necessary component of quality, spending time on effective studies can demonstrate opportunities for improvement and can shore up infection prevention practices and improve patient outcomes. These studies can often be done using data already available in the clinical record or within the center's practice management system, thus saving time and money. 

Another management factor for success is a financial accountability plan and cost savings plan; financial discipline matters. We are all aware of metrics that make ASCs equitable, like A/R days, net revenue per case, cash collections, and the list goes on. Creating an accountability plan to help make time to follow through with the necessary activities by leveraging technology to automate or enforce tedious yet critical processes. Focus on financial discipline; you will see results. Remember, you can't manage what you don't measure.

An outstanding leader who is well-organized, reliable and communicative can make all the difference. Successful ASC leaders empower staff to make their views heard, even if the decision reached isn't the employees' preferred choice. Leaders lead by example and show that they empathize with everyone on the team, and they expect the team to do the same towards one another. In an ASC's intensely collaborative environment, the organization won't function with brisk efficiency if leadership begins to view staff as resources or interchangeable assets; a workplace is healthier when everyone feels valued for their unique contribution.

Physician recruitment both internal and external is a critical ongoing effort that can pay dividends, literally. Physician involvement is one of the easiest ways to improve an ASC’s profitability. The champion can act as a bridge between the center and the board and can advocate for important initiatives that may face resistance from other physicians or board members. Ideally, a physician champion understands the business of running a surgery center, communicates well with staff and is a respected board member.

Benchmarking [is important]. The most successful centers consistently compare their supply and staffing costs, efficiency and volume to industry benchmarks. Outside your physician practice, there are the people you are dealing with most frequently who aren’t directly on your team. But these resources are an extension of your team and should be working with you to accomplish your goals. Maintaining good relations with your vendors can equate to better response times as well as better rates. Don't be afraid to ask them for help.

Technology should help you work smarter, not harder. Taking advantage of software to improve both your work flow and cash flow is crucial. In today’s post-pandemic digital world, you are at a disadvantage if you don't fully embrace your software.

Prepare for different payment models such as bundled payments or payments based on the [Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Survey] or value-based care, etc., and even more aggressive cost management. 

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