Last year the pandemic forced many ASCs to close or limit surgical volume, but enterprising administrators took the time as an opportunity to evaluate their growth strategy, improve culture, acquire new technology and become more efficient.
Here are the responses from seven ASC leaders to the question: What was the smartest thing you did last year to set your center up for success?
Steven Jascewsky. Administrator of Wellspring Pain Solutions (Columbus, Ind.): The smartest thing we did was to not furlough any employees who didn't need to be furloughed. We maintained the quality of our staff throughout in preparation for resumption. We used the reduction in volume to spend time improving the functionality and capacity of our facilities. We also decided, rather than furlough them, to expand my staff's responsibilities to become more actively involved in our upcoming EMR transition, which will pay dividends in not only buy-in but efficiency when we roll out.
Tracy Hoeft-Hoffman. Administrator of Heartland Surgery Center (Kearney, Neb.): The smartest thing we did this past year to set Heartland Surgery Center up for future success was acquire a Mako robot. We increased our total joint case volume by 70 percent. The other smart thing was working with our local state senator to get legislation changed in Nebraska to allow 23 hour 59 minute stays in ASCs.
Roger Franck. Administrator for the Endoscopy Center and Gastroenterology Associates of North Mississippi (Oxford): We took the time to explore joining with others of like specialty, investigated thoroughly, and culminated the effort by joining a new platform group sponsored by Webster Capitol.
Trudy Wiig, RN, FACHE. Administrator of Kerlan-Jobe Surgery Center (Los Angeles): Many of us reacted to the COVID-19 crisis by evaluating our priorities, discovering that God or a higher power, family and job, in that order, had become out of sequence. We recognized being closer to family was more important, being present for the kids a priority, being more caring in our relationships with our family, friends and co-workers. Caring and positivity may have become a misplaced skill that was left behind by many in their busy routines. It's the people that make the place, and our focus shifted to letting go of negative personalities and disruptive teammates, and we began anew by creating a spirit of teamwork, camaraderie and positivity, holding ourselves and each other accountable for our responsibilities.
We found time too short and life too fleeting, and challenged our teams to increase soft skills and critical healthcare skills through education, creating opportunities for learning and developing succession planning so the work environment that those positive moves created can be carried forward by the individuals coming after us. This work remains in progress, but to a person, our people feel it’s the largest lesson learned from the past year and our biggest win. We have a future to look forward to, and our center is better for these positive changes in how we plan, play and work.
LuAnne Jordan, RN. Administrator of Savannah (Ga.) F&A ASC: We are a very small surgery center. When one of our most productive surgeon's offices was bought out by the hospital, they attempted to send all the surgeries to their hospital even though their buyout agreement allowed for them to continue to bring surgeries to our center. Staff would tell the physicians that the patient's insurance would not pay in our surgery center and schedule them at the hospital.
Our center now precerts all of their patients for surgery, so we do not miss any cases. If the patient's insurance does not allow them to come to our center, we send the information back to the office, and then the patient is scheduled in the hospital. A lot of work for us, but at least we capture the surgeries!
Taylor Cera. COO of Orthopaedic Surgery Center (Youngstown, Ohio): We made tough decisions. There were many times where we didn't have the best information; however, we simply made a decision and moved forward. We were able to accomplish our pre-COVID-19 goals and strategic vision safely. These decisions took us down a different path with the same end goal of effectively keeping an efficient supply chain, a clean revenue cycle with staff working remotely, and most importantly, keeping our staff and patients safe while providing high quality, low-cost care.
Shawn Menke. Administrator of Topeka (Kan.) Surgery Center: I don’t know if we did anything smart, but what we did learn from the pandemic is how to be engaged as a team during the down time when we were closed, and how thankful I am for each one of our team members for all of their hard work and dedication to catch back up. Personally, I learned to be more thankful for each team member we have.