Highlight Reel – What is one thing you can do this week to improve your surgery center?
Here’s what to expect on this week’s episode. 🎙️
At the end of every podcast episode, we always ask our guests, “What is one thing our listeners can do this week to improve their surgery centers?”
For this week’s episode of This Week in Surgery Centers, we compiled the most recent responses we’ve had, bringing together the best advice from 11 different ASC leaders.
We hope everyone enjoys this round-up of practical, innovative ideas. A huge thank you to our featured guests 🙏
In order of appearance:
• Maura Cash
• Gavin Fabian
• Dr. Betsy Grunch
• Michael McClain
• Beata M. Canby
• Gregory DeConciliis
• Katie Sypher
• Mike Tompkins
• Joan Dentler
• Hilary Sondik
• Nader Samii
Happy New Year. It is so good to be back. I hope you all were able to enjoy the holidays and maybe take some time off and that your 2024 is off to an amazing start so far. For today’s episode, we’re going to change it up a bit from our usual format and agenda. There will be no guest interview, no news, no data segment, but instead a highlight reel of all the great advice our most recent guests have shared over the last six months.
We have had so many amazing ASC leaders on our podcast and at the end of every discussion, we always ask them what is one thing our listeners can do this week to improve their surgery centers. So we took about a dozen of their answers and turned them into this week’s episode. This is one of my favorite episodes that we do.
So I hope everyone enjoys what we have for you today. And here’s a roundup of things you can do this week to improve your surgery center.
So sticking with this topic, there’s one thing that we ask every single patient that we see, and that is. When was the last time you had anything to eat or drink? If we rephrase just that one question and maybe added a writer, and what was that meal? When was your last substantial meal? And what was that meal?
We have Great food insecurity in this country, and it’s hidden, it’s a hidden little gem, because the beautifully coiffed woman who comes in for cataract surgery may not have bought any substantial food so that she could pay for her post op care or her eye drops. So, we want to make sure that we’re asking the right questions, and that is such a simple question to expand on, and maybe get a hint.
that there may or may not be food insecurity in this person. So I think in the centers that we’ve spent time with that are the most efficient, most effective, tend to have employees that have been there a long time. A lot of these centers have a director of nursing or a head of their OR scheduler that they just have so much knowledge that they’ve developed about the center and they take a lot of pride in the facility.
So really anything that You can do to engage employees, show appreciation, uplevel their skills, but just keeping the team in place seems to drive a lot of positive effects for the centers that we work with. I think on the same lines of, we’re talking about communication. I think that really. Patient’s desire to come to a place of healthcare where they feel safe, where they feel understood and where they feel comfortable.
And all that comes down to good communication with your timing of surgery arrival times, your postoperative care, and the time that them and their family is within the facility. I think social and other platforms, even communication platforms like apps and stuff that I use. I have really helped open up that communication boundary.
Even with my surgery center, we’ve integrated a few, uh, platforms that really makes the entire process of scheduling surgery through your post operative time, very simple, very easy to reach. And I think that’s going to help. Your center become more successful to gain business and want to have people to have surgery at that particular place or from that particular provider.
I saw that question and I thought quite a bit about it and I go back to my days as an operator. The best thing I ever did in my ASC and I’ve had all my people do this is to have someone in your ASC wheel you around either in a wheelchair or in a stretcher. And your perspective changes entirely. You get to see the ceiling, you get to see what it’s like to go through doors.
You get an entirely different view of your own facility. And it’s amazing if you’re laying in the back on your back and your own PACU, what you see above you. Remember that’s what patients see every day. And you can really dramatically change the look and feel of your facility. By changing a few ceiling tiles or catching a few cobwebs.
That’s the best thing that I’ve ever, and I was taught that by an older ASC expert, and I’ve done it every time. I think it’s great. Yeah, so this one has nothing to do with regulatory and certification or credentialing. Walk your surgery center and thank your staff. Walk, walk the whole surgery center and say thank you.
Staff are critical. They’re harder and harder to find. Staff is harder and harder to keep. Make sure that they know that they’re appreciated and that you’re setting up that culture of thank you. And then I would extend that actually out to your clinic office schedulers and make sure that they know that they’re appreciated.
Because they’re critical at getting the cases in. So it’s really as simple as saying, thank you. We know there’s all this technology out there and they know there’s all these different ways we can do things using computers and iPads and streamlining processes, but I think all of us associate it with cost.
And I think people just gotta take the time to evaluate some of these companies. Realize that they may be putting some money out front for sure, but the return on that on efficiencies and doing things better from clinical quality to staff satisfaction, patient satisfaction, surgeon satisfaction, the return is exponential.
And so. Take the time to do it. Don’t be scared of it. And I think you’ll find that there’s going to be a lot of benefits in the back end. I know we’re coming to the end of the summer here and that’s when people have a little extra time to do things. It’s going to get busy again in the fall, but if you can carve out some time to do some evaluations early on, I think we found that we took the plunge in a lot of these things and it’s really changed the way we do things for the better.
What I would say is walk in the shoes of your patients. I’m going to tie this all the way back to how do we really work towards creating a positive patient experience? Have a non clinical staff member. Start at the parking lot and go through and take the journey that the patient takes. Talk to the people that the patient talks to.
Sit where they sit. Go to the OR rooms and really pretend that they’re a patient. And what you may find is there are some simple changes. That could be adjusted that are cost free that could make a huge impact for that patient experience, and I’m going to give you an example It’s probably the educator and dietician in me My husband was in the emergency room for kidney stone And I was sitting in the room with him and I looked at the light boom above where he was sitting it was covered in dust like it’s gross and Doctors come in, nurses come in, staff, administrator, but they don’t sit where the caregiver sits.
They’re never sitting in the chair looking up. And so, as simple as letting your maintenance staff know, Hey, clean the top of those lights, could be the difference between a negative social media post and a positive social media post. And so, I would say take the time to walk through, see what the patient sees, and you may be surprised that the simple changes could make a huge impact.
To improve performance, uh, research, start looking at what’s available, what you already have that you don’t know you have. Often we sign subscription agreements with our software, we’re in a contract or some sort of agreement, and it will list out all of the options that you have. I know with clearinghouses you can have different pieces of plans, so there may be portions in there that you have that you’re already paying for that you don’t know of.
Or that you want to pay for and you want to add on because you can see the benefit and the cost savings for your center. So doing that research and talking to whoever you have in contact at your surgery centers with those technology partners, making sure that they’re in constant contact and aware of any updates available for you.
I would say thank their staff. And by that, I mean, you know, everybody talks to us about their biggest issue being staffing and recruiting new staff is much harder than retaining your current staff. So I would say going out of your way to thank your staff, even just a verbal thank you is great, but even all the way to somehow sharing in some sort of profit sharing plan.
But if you’ve got good staff. Having the surgeons thank them, having whoever the owners are know their names, all of that just goes so far. So I would just say realizing how valuable your staff is and we just deal with too many people who are trying to find staff. So if you’ve got them, keep them and thank them.
So I think one thing we haven’t talked about that I’m also a big believer in is looking at your supply cost. And typically we have modules that can do this for us. So you’ve bought HST, it has an implant inventory module, for example. You can measure and under, and have sightline into what you paid for an implant.
What you were able to charge for, what you got reimbursed, I think looking at something like that, if you’re not already doing that, will open up a lot of insights to you to determine, again, are you using the most cost effective type of implant or supply? And that’s key because that can really determine maybe there’s something else you could use that’s different.
There’s a lot that goes into this. I understand with physician preferences and whatnot, but I think it’s very important. I’ve seen a lot of centers be able to make a lot of great progress being able to track what they paid for, what they got reimbursed and understanding that Delta, if there is one. So I’ll leave you with that.
What I would say is. Really focusing on the patient experience. I think healthcare in general tries to, but still gets very transactional in its nature. And so I think, again, I mentioned hospitality in terms of a board member. I think it’s a really interesting approach. I think it’s not hard to differentiate yourself in a world where things are so transactional in nature.
And finding experiential things that don’t necessarily cost a ton, but that you’re really being thoughtful about from the time that patient makes the decision at the surgical practice to come to your ASC, how’s every point of contact from that point forward handled? Including on the back end through the entire billing process too, is it all handled well so at the end that they’re feeling and having a great experience?
I’ve had a great clinical experience where then the patient follow up, they got denial cause they didn’t get pre auth They didn’t do the pre auth process correctly and started sending me 40, 000 bills. And, you know, I said, you’re probably sending it to the wrong person because this is not my issue and it’s not going to be my issue.
But they kept sending it and eventually it got solved, but it took a year and a half and that created annoyance and nuisance. And you don’t want to. You know, it creates some stress for people getting 40, 000 bills that they don’t want to have and aren’t necessary. And I’m lucky enough that I happen to know this business, but imagine if you didn’t, so you could have had a great surgical experience and you have a bad experience on the backend, or you could have not had great point of contact.
Some of that software too, really wonderful software experience, easy for people to maneuver. You know, get through the system. So I almost take a little bit of a spa or hospitality approach to and maybe flip yourself around, have one of your surgeons go pretend to be a patient through the process. And what does that experience for them?
And is it what they would want to have? And I think that’s lost a lot in this industry.