By Michael Nolan
Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are focused first and foremost on patient care.
The ASC Administrator likely has a nursing degree rather than an MBA, and staff generally have clinical backgrounds. While the staff composition affords ASCs expert patient care decision-making, it often leaves ASC Administrators in unfamiliar territory when it comes to business management decisions. However, there are major benefits to be achieved when ASC clinical leaders evaluate their overall operational decisions through a business lens – not only is it a good financial strategy, but it is also a key component of delivering better patient care.
For a variety of reasons, ASCs have been slow adopters of new business trends and technology. Healthcare personnel are trained to be risk-averse and to make “evidence-based decisions” rather than take a gamble on something that may or may not work as expected. Additionally, regulations abound on the management of patient health information (PHI), which means the newest apps or communication tools are incompatible with healthcare system regulatory requirements, or unable to integrate with the software platforms currently in place.
Unless they’ve taken proactive steps to implement the latest technology, ASCs tend to have older computer systems, rely on paper records, and remain unaware of efficiencies available to optimize their procedures. But this doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, remain the standard for the ASC workplace. ASC Administrators can easily take steps to adopt a more business-savvy approach to the ASC setting, with a payoff that adds value beyond a healthier bottom line.
Here are five smart business moves that ASC Administrators can make now to improve ASC business efficiency and financial strength, while positively impacting patient health outcomes:
1) Adopt tools for remote patient communication.
Collecting information from patients before surgery, confirming paperwork and appointment times, providing reminders to refrain from activities that could prevent their procedure from taking place, and communicating remotely with caregivers creates a better patient experience, improves accuracy in information, and results in fewer last minute case cancellations. Technology can easily be laid on top of existing ASC platforms and automated for patient communication via text message or email, and ensure a smooth process the day of surgery.
2) Implement better scheduling systems.
Cloud-based surgery scheduling and real-time coordination help ensure that the operating rooms are being used most efficiently and allow the surgeons and healthcare staff to respond quickly to schedule openings or changes. Time is money in the ASC setting, and taking steps to implement smart scheduling has a high ROI in the long run. Additionally, implementing a technology-backed scheduling program allows surgeons to review their case schedules from another device, such as a mobile phone or personal laptop, without having to call or come into the office.