How total joints propelled an Ohio-based ASC's strategy for growth and a bigger location

The Orthopaedic Surgery Center in Boardman, Ohio, is a 100 percent physician-owned facility focused on orthopedics. Here, Administrator Taylor Cera discusses the group's growth and opening a new ASC in 2019.

Question: The Orthopaedic Surgery Center started as an orthopedics-focused center but has added podiatric services, pain management, plastics and reconstructive surgery. What is the strategy for 2019?

Taylor Cera: The strategy for 2019 is to focus on adding additional specialties including spine. We’ve been able to increase revenue over the past five years by strategically adding joint replacements to our orthopaedic service line. Further, cost-cutting initiatives have improved financial results. Our operating margins and current ratio have improved-- The future looks bright. We still plan to focus on gaining more operational efficiencies in 2019.

If we take a step back and look at the healthcare transformation to outpatient surgery, it's one of the fastest growing sectors in healthcare. I think as an ASC, you have the opportunity to position yourself for innovative changes in the delivery care models that are taking shape.

Q: What industry factors drive change?

TC: More than ever patients are shopping for their healthcare. They are searching the internet for price transparency-- low-cost, convenient options.

The aging population is increasing and the demand for total joint replacement is going up. Patients who are otherwise healthy will now have surgery in the outpatient setting. Insurance companies are now interested in lower cost centers and with the technology changes that have happened in the past half-decade, we have strategically identified key opportunities to grow our center. After a series of small wins, we are now getting to our end goal of building an ASC designed for the future to increase access in our community.

Q: What initiatives have you implemented to stay on the forefront of consumerism trends in healthcare?

TC: Initiatives like outpatient joint replacements or price transparency are perfect for ASCs, as the low-cost setting that can offer a better patient experience. Staff and physicians are also an important part of the equation; you have to keep them engaged , motivated, and optimistic. You have to lead them and allow them to grow within the organization. Then, identifying opportunities early so you can implement strategic initiatives will build a strong foundation for growth in the future.

Our facility was designed with the patients and clinicians in mind. For example, there are horizontal windows throughout the facility which gives everyone a sense of what is happening outside. We’ll have natural light in the facility around the clock.. Designers have data showing this improves peoples' mood. Furthermore, the new center has 23-hour private recovery suites.

We were able to gather valuable data for our patients and healthcare professionals in the development of the Center’s plans. It's been a lot of hard work, but at the end of the day we are proud to be physician-owned and led. In the current healthcare climate, the health systems that can align with and manage physician practices are successful and will remain successful. However, those that aren't able to align with and manage physician salaries and the high cost of brick and mortar facilities will fail; with the consumerism, patient shopping, and technology, elective orthopedic procedures in a traditional hospital setting will continue to decrease. What makes an ASC unique is the ability to operate to your size and scope and really manage margins.

With regard to our digital response to consumerism, I think we do just an “average” job at marketing. We lacked the understanding of how to market and communicate. There’s an opportunity to expand access to our patients via new media in which some competitors are quite good at. We are actively looking for successful strategies to do this.

Q: When you're building the team for a new center, how do you identify a physician leader?

TC: You need a physician champion who is optimistic, creates energy, is a hard worker and possesses the ability to succeed! To be a leader, you must have followership around you. . This inspires creativity, commitment and growth in good times and in bad. Beyond this factor, the rest is quite simple, it just takes hard work.

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For a deeper dive into the future of total joints in ASCs, attend the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC in Chicago, June 13-5, 2019. Click here to learn more and register.


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