What your ASC can do to cut costs today: 3 leaders weigh in

During an Oct. 26 panel at the Becker's ASC Review 24th Annual Meeting: The Business and Operations of ASCs, held in Chicago, three healthcare leaders discussed various cost reduction strategies ambulatory surgery centers can harness to improve their bottom lines and increase their caseloads.

Panelists included Josh Carter, senior vice president of ASC sales for Northfield, Ill.-based Medline; Stephen Blake, CEO of Central Park ENT & Surgery Center in Arlington, Texas; and Catherine Retzbach, BSN, RN, administrator of Holly, N.J.-based Memorial Ambulatory Surgery Center.

Mr. Blake said a key factor to cost reduction is standardization. Leaders should focus on standardizing the products that cost their ASC the most money. "Sometimes it's the higher ticket items, but most of the time it's common products like medical gloves that can save you the most money by standardizing," he said.

Cost and utilization data are crucial for identifying standardization opportunities, but ASCs don't always have this necessary information. Therefore, distributors can be a valuable resource for ASCs looking to improve standardization, according to Mr. Carter. "They can tell you what's used, where," he said. "So you should lean on them in that area."

ASCs should also communicate with distributors to ensure contracts are properly enacted for the items they're buying. "If you're not buying on contract, you're spending too much money," says Mr. Carter. "That's quick savings on items you're buying today."

While improved inventory management can significantly reduce an ASC's expenses, leaders should think twice before using the cost savings to invest into a new procedure or technology. Ms. Retzbach said a general surgeon at her center was very interested in offering robotic surgery for outpatients. However, ASC leadership decided investing in a surgical robot did not make financial sense, since the center only had one employee on staff who could use it.

"What if the surgeon broke his leg and couldn't work for a month?" said Ms. Retzbach. "The robot would just sit there unused."

Therefore, before investing in a new technology or service to increase cases, leaders must assess whether it will be a good fit for the community, help expand the ASC's market and positively affect the center's bottom line.

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