Surgery centers share accomplishments and lessons learned from 2020, goals for 2021


Roughly four years ago, Surgical Notes launched "The Note Pad," an online community of surgery center professionals exclusively for Surgical Notes clients.

Last year — a difficult year for us all — we witnessed users of The Note Pad support one another through the platform, sharing recommendations, uplifting stories, jokes and more. The platform also served as a temporary escape for clients, allowing them to participate in challenges and games that provided a welcomed, enjoyable distraction from the significant stresses of a year defined by the pandemic.

The dedication and perseverance of our clients and all ASCs in the face of such significant adversity was awe-inspiring, to say the least. We gained an even greater appreciation for the amazing care provided by ASCs day in and day out to their patient communities.

Before we happily turned the page on 2020, we asked our clients in The Note Pad to take one more look back on the year and look forward to 2021 — a year that we all hope will bring a return to normalcy and greater prosperity. The following responses come from ASCs that provided responses through The Note Pad. Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style.

What is an accomplishment your ASC achieved in 2020 that stands out?

• "We kept our patients and staff safe during this pandemic."
• "Our ASC received its Joint Commission reaccreditation, which we were able to achieve three weeks before operations and travels were restricted due to COVID-19."
• "We earned the title of Iowa's first and only AAAHC advanced orthopaedic certified surgery center."
• "We added a new spine physician, who has been a blessing for our community."
• "We remained open for emergency cases during the early days of the pandemic."
• "We doubled the amount of total joint procedures we were performing."
• "We opened for emergency cases at the start of the pandemic."
• "We stayed busy during the pandemic."
• "We passed our mock survey."

2020 was a difficult year. What makes you optimistic about your ASC and the ASC industry in general in 2021?

• "Availability of the COVID-19 vaccines." (multiple responses)
• "Through this whole experience, people have come together. I foresee that continuing in the future. We can all help each other bounce back."
• "Even though 2020 was difficult, and our ASC was shut down for elective surgeries for a month, we've already started to build a second, larger ASC, which will open by the end of 2021. On top of that, we already have a lengthy list of physicians wanting to utilize the new ASC for their procedures."
• "Patients will always have cataracts that need to be treated, so we are continuing to perform procedures that will help make a difference."
• "We continue to ramp up our total joint program. With more people hearing how great ASCs are for total joint surgery, they are even beginning to seek us out."

What goals does your ASC have for 2021?

• "With the vaccine available, we are hoping to get to full capacity again."
• "We'd like to be more involved in the community. It's been a tough year for a lot of people, and we'd like to help in more ways than just providing a safe surgical environment."
• "Growth and surgeon recruitment."
• "To be able to have all my physicians back and continue taking care of our community."
• "Keep delivering great customer service in a clean, friendly environment."
• “To thrive and reach the total case count we have been chasing for a few years."
• "Continue to grow and schedule more cases."
• "Take everything one day at a time."

Not surprisingly, multiple ASCs identified the ability to continue providing safe surgical care — and, in some instances, helping out with emergency care — during the pandemic as the top way of measuring their ASC's success in 2020. Others identified significant, individual facility achievements. Availability of COVID-19 vaccines is giving many ASCs hope about the future, as is the increasing demand for the quality care provided by surgery centers. Goals for 2021 largely center around returning to pre-pandemic operations and striving to achieve growth as the number of vaccinated individuals increases and the country moves toward herd immunity.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that appreciation for ASCs and understanding of their impressive services seems to have increased in 2020. This positive momentum looks to be carrying over in 2021, putting ASCs in a strong position to further solidify their standing as the preferred site for high-quality, lower-cost surgical care.

Randy Bishop ( is president and chief executive officer for Surgical Notes. Surgical Notes is a nationwide provider of revenue cycle solutions, including, transcription, coding, revenue cycle management (RCM), and document management applications for the ASC and surgical hospital markets.


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