5 Regional Market Strategies for Pain Management ASCs

At the 20th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 24, Stephen Rosenbaum, CEO of Interventional Management Services, and Robin Fowler, MD, chairman and medical director of interventional services at IMS, discussed five key strategies for how pain management ASCs can succeed in their respective markets.

1. Have a good relationship with your competitors. Healthcare reform is requiring a more holistic view of the patient care delivery system, and this means competitors can no longer view each other as arch enemies. Establishing a good working relationship, while still maintaining respective business plans, is beneficial for a pain ASC because "the bottom line is, we're all in healthcare because we want to take care of patients," Dr. Fowler said.

2. Create a good legal structure. An axiom that holds true in most industries, especially one as highly regulated as healthcare, is spending a little now to save a lot later. Creating the proper legal structure to account for the evolving laws, especially in the pain space, is a prudent long-term move for pain ASCs.

"You need to know your region. If you know the rules and you can do it better than anyone else, that puts you in a good position to succeed," Mr. Rosenbaum said. "But you need legal help from the beginning."

3. Follow best practices closely. IMS does about 28,000 cases annually, or about 2,500 per month, and 85 percent are pain management cases. "That's a lot of opportunity to make mistakes," Dr. Fowler said. "Keep as tight a grip on best practices — best billing, best coding, best compliance — as possible."

4. Be transparent and engaging. Physician partners are the lifeblood of any ASC, and it's no different for pain centers. To keep everyone engaged and at the top of their game, it helps to be transparent regarding policies, procedures and distributions. Closed-door meetings usually create a sense that something is being hidden for a reason.

"Our entire organization is very transparent to our partners," Dr. Fowler said. "We bring numbers galore, they see exactly what their other partners are doing — cases, revenue. We want it very transparent so it serves as a better education platform."

5. Invest in marketing. When IMS first started, it had one full-time marketing employee. The company upped that total to four, and Dr. Fowler said patient referrals doubled almost immediately. Investing in marketing, and marketing the right way, can positively affect any pain management-focused ASC.

"Pain is very competitive, and marketing is a significant opportunity that is not often utilized," Dr. Fowler said.

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