Outlook for ASC physician recruitment and more: 3 top priorities for execs

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ASCs faced hardship last year when many centers limited surgical procedures or shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Since then, administrators like Danilo D'Aprile have been working hard to resume normal patient volume and take advantage of growth opportunities. Mr. D'Aprile is the administrator of Orthopaedic & Specialty Surgery Center in Danbury, Conn. He joined the Becker's Ambulatory Surgery Centers Podcast Jan. 15 to discuss growing his total joint replacement program, physician recruitment and more.

Click here to hear the full episode and subscribe to the Becker's Ambulatory Surgery Centers Podcast.

Question: What are your top three priorities for 2021?

Danilo D'Aprile: Some of the plans I have came over from 2020 because I wasn't able to achieve all the plans I have for obvious reasons; 2020 was a tough year for a lot of us. My top priority for the coming year is increasing our projected volume, recouping some of the lost volume we had from 2020 and then really keeping on our active physician recruitment. Some of the ways of capturing and increasing our volume would be starting our Medicare total hip replacement program and adding to our overall total joints. We have a very robust total joint replacement program already. In 2020, even though we had decided early on in the third week in March to shut down the surgery center for about a month and a half, we were able to still do about 120 total joints. This year our aim is to double that number with the addition of Medicare total hips. We do Medicare total knees, and we have a robust overnight program, so with all of those things, the first goal of increasing our volume is something I'll be able to achieve.

My No. 2 goal would be to obtain the advanced orthopedic and spine certification. The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care offers the advanced certification in orthopedics or spine, or both, and I would like to do a joint orthopedic and spine certification.

Lastly, my big third goal of the year is implementing new marketing initiatives to promote our new robotic technologies. We have two Mako robots at the surgery center that we do a lot of our total and [partial] knees with. I also want to do more marketing videos with the robots and center walk-throughs. We also used to do in-person total joint classes, and to go with the times and be more synchronous with the unique times we find ourselves in with the pandemic, we are developing a total joint replacement class in video form, and that will have all our key stakeholders, physical therapy, surgeons, nursing staff. Everyone will be involved in that video.

Q: What is your outlook for physician recruitment? How is it different from the past?

DD: Since the pandemic first hit last March and April, I did see an influx in credentialing and physicians reaching out just to be credentialed. You want to be diligent about what their motives are. When we were in the initial period of trying to figure out what was going on in the early stages of the pandemic, the question was whether it was a long term plan for the physician to come to the surgery center or were they just looking to do a few cases because they weren't able to do them at the hospital because they weren't able to do them at the hospital they were working at. That's part of the due diligence we had to do and we had to be strategic about that.

Now, almost a year later, there are a lot of physicians, and we see that also in the way the Medicare final rule that came out, recently adding so many different procedures to the ASC list, things are headed our way as far as being able to do more cases at the surgery center. We have a unique ability at OSSC because we do have two Mako robots, so we do attract physicians, orthopedic surgeons and total joint surgeons who use the robot at the hospital, but don't want to be at the hospital. This is their alternative. We have the overnight stay program, and it does attract those surgeons.

Our total joint replacement program is very robust. We are in a good position to attract a lot of these doctors, and I have a lot of physicians coming to me to request privileges and ownership because they want to be here.

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