Supercharge Your ASC Strategy: Focus on These 5 Priorities

As the cost of care continues to rise throughout the healthcare industry, and as a growing number of Baby Boomers enter the healthcare system, ambulatory surgery center case volumes are expected to grow by 22% in the next decade, according to a report from AORN.

In an era where the delivery of surgical care and the broader healthcare environment are enduring rapid shifts, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) must establish and meticulously hone their strategic priorities. A clear strategic vision that’s narrow in specificity and supported by data enables a facility to streamline its operations, enhance patient care, and improve its bottom line.

Does your facility have clear strategic priorities? Here, Sullivan Healthcare Consulting’s team will explore five critical strategic priorities and explain why they’re essential for the modern healthcare environment. By aligning your ASC’s strategy to these priority areas, you can create a transformative impact on your ASC’s success.

1. Preserve and Grow Your ASC’s Market Share

As the ASC market grows, the competition your facility will face increases. Preserving and growing your facility’s market share is essential for sustainability. As a strategic priority, there are several ways ASCs can retain stability and even expand. Tactics to support this strategy include:

  • Market your ASC effectively: A strategic and data-driven ASC marketing plan can create a positive first impression on your audience. Consider investing in efforts that make your facility easy to find online, and showcase the gap your facility fills.  Customize your marketing messaging and materials to your various audiences, including patients, physicians, and payers.
  • Invest in equipment strategically: As competition increases, your facility may feel pressured to add robotics for certain services. While these equipment upgrades can increase your ASC’s efficiency and patient satisfaction, it’s not a decision that should be made separate from a broader strategic plan. Make sure that equipment purchases are tied to core challenges facing your facility, not simply because it’s what your competitors are doing.
  • Cultivate trust and high levels of patient satisfaction: While numerous factors influence patients’ perception of your facility, starting with administration is often a good idea. By providing painless, crystal-clear, and accessible information during the pre-surgical assessment and registration, you can reduce patients’ stress and confusion before procedures. Improving patients’ experience in these areas can have crucial downstream effects, with word-of-mouth spreading among both patients and physicians.

2. Increase Affordability and Lower the Cost of Care Delivery

As deductibles and patient responsibility for out-of-pocket costs increase, patients are increasingly cost-conscious when making healthcare decisions. Likewise, payers are growing frustrated with the high costs for common procedures in hospital outpatient departments (HOPD) and ORs. Payers’ frustrations are one of the driving forces behind the growth in ASC case volumes. To attract these cost-conscious patients and payers, your ASC needs to identify innovative and sustainable ways to increase affordability and lower the cost of delivery.

A strategic initiative like lowering the cost of care delivery is incredibly broad in its scope. It could demand optimizations in every area of your facility, from sterile processing and coding to scheduling and staffing. High instrumentation costs, disorder in sterile processing, and staffing woes can each quietly contribute to higher costs for your facility.

Which areas are costing your facility? Speaking with an ASC consultant can help your facility identify the areas that are ripe for improvement and can lower the cost of care delivery.

Related read

Click to see how Sullivan’s sterile processing consultants revitalized a major university’s sterile processing department, saving the organization over a quarter of a million dollars in general instrumentation costs alone.

3. Increase Your ASC’s Capacity

ASCs are often a hospital’s solution to capacity challenges. In fact, that’s why many hospitals are turning their HOPDs into ASCs. However, ASCs naturally aren’t immune to capacity challenges. Depending on your ASC’s structure, increasing capacity could be one of the best ways to increase revenue. The question is: how do you achieve that in your facility? Potential solutions include:

  • Refining your procedure list: If your facility performs procedures with low base units and high time requirements, you won’t get the maximum value from your space, time, staff, and equipment. Refining your procedure list to prioritize cases with higher base units and lower time requirements can increase your facility’s case capacity.
  • Make administrative hires: If physician and nurse workloads are laden with pre-surgical scheduling and administrative work, it can dramatically reduce your facility’s throughput and, consequently, your facility’s capacity. Making administrative hires to handle tasks that don’t require clinicians can allow staff to work more efficiently, allowing your facility to take on more cases.
  • Physical expansion: If your facility has already optimized its procedure list and made strategic hires to increase efficiency, further improvements will yield increasingly smaller rewards. At such a juncture, you may want to consider expanding your facility’s footprint. As with significant equipment investments, expanding your facility should only be seriously considered when aligned with your strategic priorities and needs.

Understanding how and when to expand your facility’s capacity is vital for sustaining growth in the increasingly competitive ASC market. By carefully analyzing your current operations and strategically planning for capacity increases, you can position your ASC to thrive and deliver exceptional care while maximizing its revenue potential.

4. Recruit and Retain Surgeons and Clinical Staff

Sustainable operations and growth depend on staffing. In the current healthcare ecosystem, recruiting and retaining your facility’s staff is no simple task. ASCs have a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting many staff members. Predictable hours, lower patient acuity, and smaller teams can make working in an ASC an attractive arrangement for everyone from surgeons to nurses.

However, those advantages don’t give your facility any guarantees. After all, every ASC can offer them. Therefore, your facility must identify ways to establish a uniquely attractive employer brand. Some effective ways to do so include:

  • Offering stakes in facility equity to surgeons: When a surgeon has demonstrated dedication to quality outcomes, works well alongside the rest of your facility’s clinical staff, and is a powerhouse in the OR, you want to keep them around. Offering them a stake in the facility’s ownership is a great way to incentivize surgeons to remain dedicated and loyal to your facility.
  • Building a healthy culture: Everyone from surgeons and anesthesiologists to nurses and administrators wants to genuinely enjoy coming to work. Your ASC makes that significantly easier when you have a healthy culture where leaders are transparent, input from clinicians across the care continuum is valued, and everyone is ready and willing to do their part.
  • Automating non-clinical tasks: Implementing modernized processes and using automation where possible can eliminate or reduce the burden of tedious tasks. These improvements can increase staff satisfaction and help drive other strategic priorities, like operational efficiency.

5. Establish Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships with Payers

As competition among ASCs increases, it’s more and more important for facilities to establish strong relationships with payers. As previously established, payers are increasingly concerned with value. Moreover, they want to ensure that their members receive quality care at an affordable cost, given that patients are more responsible for payment.

Negotiating reimbursement rates with specific providers can give your facility a strategic advantage. As a preferred provider, your facility can benefit from consistent patient referrals, a stabilized ASC revenue cycle, and a reputation that can be leveraged across marketing channels.

Value and quality are paramount for patients and providers, so establishing robust payer partnerships can significantly enhance your ASC’s growth and success.

Establish a Winning ASC Strategy

Each of these strategic priorities demands improvements in numerous distinct areas by necessity. A complete overhaul of your facility’s processes may ultimately have a negative impact on your team, leading to disjointed systems, burned-out clinical staff, and frustrated patients. Therefore, for your ASC to make consistent and significant improvements, you may need to limit your focus to a select one or two of these strategic priorities.

Not sure what your facility should focus on? Sullivan Healthcare Consulting’s team of ambulatory surgery center consultants have decades of experience helping facilities improve their margins and building data-driven, evidence-based ASC strategies. If your facility’s strategic priorities aren’t as clear as you want them to be, our consultants can perform a holistic assessment of your facility’s performance and strengths to identify prime areas for growth.

Ready to prepare for the competition coming to the ASC market? Contact Sullivan Healthcare Consulting to get started.

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