1. Be excessive about customer service. Great organizations strive for great customer service, high patient satisfaction, and high physician satisfaction, says Tom Jacobs, CEO of MedHQ. Leaders in the organization must become experts at spotting behaviors that support the organization's values. The values have their greatest real meaning within the context of defining how the organization delivers the products and services promised to its customers. A players, then, will naturally be those that excel at customer service. And great leaders in the organization will be those that find ways to be most supportive of A players' efforts. How the front lines of the organization treat your customers is critically important, and supporting your front line personnel starts by supporting them in their daily routines and then goes deeply into the inner workings of the organization, as it pertains to investment decisions, organizational prioritization, assignment of job duties, etc. The companies with great culture will make great customer service the focal point of their efforts.
2. Be well organized. "Being well organized is huge for an administrator," says Kathy Leone, administrator of Saint Vincent Endoscopy Center in Erie, Pa. "You don't want to have last-minute fire drills." Administrators have certain "must do's" like meeting payroll and following the surgery schedule. Then there are regular deadlines for tasks such as meeting regulatory requirements. And then there are minor duties that also cannot be missed, such as getting a TB test. Everyone has her own way of keeping track. Ms. Leone keeps a "to do" list and starts new files every quarter for quality, infection control and peer review committees and for the board, and she fills each one with pertinent material.
3. Optimize staffing schedules. Continuously monitor staff hours worked per case. "A lot of the time ASCs don't flex staff well enough,"says Lanson Hyde, COO of Surgical Development Partners in Franklin, Tenn. Look at staffing reports daily. When the caseload falls but overall hours remain constant, staff has not been flexed well that day. "There are a million excuses," he says. "Some administrators see themselves as nurse advocates and not managers of multimillion-dollar businesses, with investors who have taken risk and expect — and deserve — returns." Quality is not a good excuse, either, because overstaffing does not improve clinical outcomes.
"It's easy to let overstaffing happen and hard when you see the results," Mr. Hyde says. Administrators who haven't made monitoring a priority will be in for a shock when they look at end-of-year reports. "They'll realize they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on additional staffing and have nothing to show for it," he says.
4. Make sure staff isn't reusing detergents and brushes. No matter what type of enzymatic detergent your ASC uses to soak scopes into, Shaun Sweeney, vice president of sales and marketing for Cygnus Medical stresses the importance of changing — not reusing — detergents after each use for optimal effectiveness. Just as a household member would refill a sink with new water and new detergent to clean dirty dishes, ASCs should also be mindful of changing water and enzymatic detergent because detergent will break down, Mr. Sweeney says.
"This may be a case of someone not paying attention to the manufacturer's recommendations or trying to save money, but ASCs must not reuse enzymatic detergent with multiple scopes. Detergents absolutely break down and lose integrity after each use," he says. "ASCs will sometimes reuse a brush to clean a scope too, but they have to remember that there are disposable kinds and reusable kinds. If you use a single-use item, you're supposed to use that item just one time."
5. Minimize infections by only use legal disinfectants. There are products out there which are sold but do not comply with the state and national requirements of regulatory agencies, says Jack Wagner is president of Micro-Scientific, a producer and distributor of anitmicrobial products based in Illinois. You need to look at the label and if it's legal, it will give you an EPA registration number. That number is like a driver's license. It lets regulatory people and you know the product has been tested, evaluated and it has been approved by the U.S. EPA. If there's no registration number on the label, it's not a legal product to use.
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