The 'many hats' of ASC leadership: How leaders balance multiple roles

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ASC leaders must juggle multiple roles and responsibilities to keep their centers running.

Andrew Lovewell is the administrator of the Surgical Center at Columbia (Mo.) Orthopaedic Group. He spoke with Becker's ASC Review on the ideal leadership model.

Editor's note: This interview was edited lightly for clarity and brevity.

Question: What's the ideal leadership model for ASCs?

Andrew Lovewell: The difference with an ASC versus other healthcare organizations is that they traditionally wear more hats. Many people think ASCs are easier to manage because they are smaller, there’s less staff and most ASCs perform niche procedures. This assumption couldn’t be any more wrong! The leadership team has to take care of the HR, privacy and compliance, policies, regulatory, quality improvement, scheduling, contracting, etc. Most other organizations have multiple people for all those roles, whereas an ASC might have a leadership team that consists of three to four people. The world we live in isn’t getting any easier for leaders anywhere, but that’s exceptionally true in the ASC space.

On one hand, we have a lot of procedures shifting to the ASC environment and providing an opportunity for increased volumes and revenue. However, the leaders of the ASC have to assure that things are done safely and efficiently for both patients and physicians. We have to create an environment of safety and security so patients don’t feel like they are getting something less than what they may have received at a hospital or any other facility. Leaders in the ASC world have a big job. They traditionally get bombarded with every single type of issue that happens in their facility, and they set the tone for the organization.

I can tell you based on previous experiences that a leadership team for an ASC can dramatically shift the culture of both staff and physicians. I am fortunate that the leadership team at our facility is outstanding. We have a very supportive board of physicians that have given the leadership team a lot of autonomy to assure that things are done the right way. On top of that, our service line leaders in nursing, materials management and our business office are all excellent. There’s this philosophy that if you give people the resources they need, the education and training to be successful and provide them with some autonomy to do what they are good at, they are going to be successful — it's true!

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