Creating a positive work culture is imperative in Ambulatory Surgery Centers. ASC employees are under constant stress because of the fast-paced environment and need to provide top-quality care at all times. The stakes are high, and there is always a risk that negativity can creep into your ASC's culture. Providing a positive culture for your staff will create a work environment where negativity has no place, resulting in better service, higher employee retention, and greater employee satisfaction.
Anticipating the installation of new ASC software can create anxiety for surgeons and staff. Everyone worries if the software will be too complex to learn, whether it will make work life more difficult, and how it will impact patient care. Ambulatory Surgery Centers always have a lot going on and overlapping tasks that need to be handled.
Ambulatory Surgery Centers have been expanding their reach over the years, taking on a wider range of out-patient surgeries and specialty procedures. These include total joint replacements, ophthalmological procedures, GI procedures, and biopsies. It’s undeniable that doing more procedures at ASCs benefits the surgeons and staff at these facilities, but it’s also a great boon for patients, who benefit in many ways from the option of having procedures done at ASCs.
Ambulatory Surgery Centers are growing in popularity. More individuals every year realize they can get top-quality health care at a reasonable price without having to check into a hospital. Surgeons are also increasingly opting for ASCs over hospitals for various procedures. How do you get these patients and new surgeons to choose your ASC over others in your area?
There is incredible industry growth in Ambulatory Surgery Centers across the country. In 2019, there were 9,280 active ASCs in the United States. In the first five months, 72 more ASCs opened, and the growth trend is poised to continue into the future.
Postoperative care is defined as the care that a patient receives following a surgical procedure. It’s an important aspect of healthcare as it encompasses all the procedures necessary for effective recovery after any type of surgery.
According to the World Health Organization, postoperative care includes recovery room orders concerning a patient’s vital signs, pain control, intravenous fluid administration, waste output, medications, and lab investigations. Most if not all of these tasks are performed by specialist nurses.
This means that proper postoperative care is affected by the nursing shortage, especially as it includes medical tasks only doable by those with the right training and qualifications. While more specialist nurses are qualifying for their BSN, it’s currently not enough to answer the high demand for them in hospitals, community clinics, and ASCs. This is why it’s crucial for medical professionals to be well-versed in the fundamentals of postoperative care, which can help streamline the whole process and better aid patients in recovery.
As a new nurse, going from the hospital environment into an ambulatory surgery center was an eye-opening experience. I remember one of my fellow nurses laughing when I asked where to get a saline flush. I quickly realized why that was so funny and the differences working in a facility that bills globally, as opposed to itemized billing. In my career, I have worked for two large ambulatory surgery management groups. When it came to increasing revenue, they had different approaches, but the ultimate goals were the same. Control the things you can control – supply costs, labor costs, and billing.
What I learned so long ago, is that supplies are something we can control. Here are some considerations when evaluating opportunities to reduce supply costs:
- Is the size of your inventory appropriate for your case volume?
- Is your stock being rotated to prevent items from expiring and having to be discarded? This one really made me batty. It is literally like throwing money away.
- Are there suitable alternatives for supplies that cost less than the item you have always ordered?
- Look for buy-in from your partners to agree on supplies for cost-savings instead of catering to individual preferences. Show them data that supports your position.
Right in line with supply costs are labor costs. There are so many repetitive processes in an ASC or surgery department in a hospital. I know how difficult it can be to stop and really evaluate workflows to look for inefficiencies, but it is so important. One way of doing this is with job shadowing. Calendar some time with each of the departments in the ASC to walk through their processes. When you have a complete picture of the inner workings at your facility, you will gain insightful information that can help eliminate unnecessary steps that will save a minute here and a minute there. That might not seem like much. When you add it up across a day, a week, a month, and a year those minutes add up to dollars and lots of them.
Last but not least, is billing. I don’t mean that you send a bill and hope it gets paid. Here are some items to consider when trying to increase payments at your facility:
- How can you increase billing? Perform more cases by attracting more physicians? Better utilization of block time? Bring on more specialized and higher reimbursing service lines?
- What about your policies for collecting the amount due from the patient? Are your patients being notified in a timely manner of their financial responsibility and given their payment options prior to the day of the procedure? Are you getting all the information you need from the office scheduler when the case is booked?
- Are claims being submitted in a timely manner? What about other correspondence with insurance companies? Are they being addressed before the clock runs out?
While these initiatives are straight-forward, it can seem daunting to get started. I recommend getting the team involved to evaluate what items are most pressing for your facility and then divide and conquer.
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Happy National Nurses Day from the One Medical Passport Family.