This is an essay converted to a powerpoint presentation on Ambulatory Service Centers.
Slide 1: Industry Overview
The Ambulatory Service Center industry is a part of the healthcare industry focused on providing same-day surgical care, including diagnostic and preventative procedures (ASCA, 2016). The industry is facing a number of challenges, including the need for increased patient turnover, but with high patient satisfaction as well.
Slide 2: A Question of Priorities
In choosing the right balance between bringing in more patients and patient satisfaction there are two dynamics to consider. One is that higher patient satisfaction is often associated with more referrals – others in health care are more likely to refer to you if you have a good reputation. The other factor is that low satisfaction is associated with higher malpractice suit incidences (Stelfox et al, 2005). Given what malpractice insurance costs, let alone a successful suit, reducing malpractice risk is more important than increasing patient turnover.
Slide 3: Human Resources
Among the key findings of Stelfox et al (2005) is that a relatively small number of physicians are responsible for a disproportionate amount of malpractice suits and patient complaints. The first basic strategy is strictly on the patient satisfaction side, and that is to have procedures in place to ensure that high quality staff only are hired, and that any physician whose patient satisfaction scores are dipping will be subject to remedial training, and ultimately to dismissal. Physicians have to understand that patient satisfaction standards are strict.
Slide 4: Determine Best Practices
As tempting as it is to simply set a target and say “go”, the reality is that telling people to work faster without telling them how is a recipe for errors. From a management perspective, we need to define the best practices for efficient, error-free processing of patients, and then train all staff on these practices. Best practices should be determined through evidence – gathering data, using studies, and investigating what peers elsewhere are doing; it is not enough to simply assume that your practices are the best (Walshe & RunMdall, 2001).
Slide 5: Not Just Physicians
Physicians are but one part of the system. Everybody at the ASC is part of the system, and will be an influencer both in terms of quality of care and efficiency of patient treatment. All aspects of the business need to be streamlined, from the intake process to the physician visit and everything in between. All processes need to be examined in order to determine best practices, and everybody will need to be trained. Managers need to be trained in things like identifying bottlenecks and creative problem-solving, in order to implement this vision.
Slide 6: Where do Referrals Come From?
One of the objectives of the strategy is to increase the amount of referrals. This means identifying where referrals come from, and why they refer to us. There are going to be a few different types. Professional marketing techniques should be applied, starting with understanding the personas of the different stakeholders who send us patients. Figure out who they are, and how we can motivate them to send us more patients.
Slide 7: Marketing
In addition to understanding from where referrals are coming now, it is also important to understand where we are not getting referrals from. That means a more inquisitive marketing approach, to determine what markets we are not yet serving that we could be, or where are market performance is sub-par. Once we know these things, we will be able to tap into these markets.
Slide 8: The Physician Side
Motivation is another human resources issue, and motivating physicians to work through patients quickly, without sacrificing quality, is a delicate issue. They could face burnout, but you don’t want to increase costs too much to account for this – that increased efficiency is the point. So while some output-based measures can be tied to bonuses, there should be other forms of motivation utilized as well, such as non-financial rewards, career path rewards, vacation time or things like that.
Slide 9:Develop a Pitch
The key pitch here for a lot of payers and referrers is that we are a facility that operates with utmost efficiency. We move a lot of patients through because we have great systems, not because we are compromising quality. If anything, the systems allow us to have replicable high levels of performance that results in increased quality to go with that increase in turnover.
Slide 10: Technology
Technology has to play a big role. One of the biggest bottlenecks at an ASC is information, in particular the time it takes to find information. So having a system whereby key information is easy to find is important. Processing of paperwork and payments, finding patient health records, and having decision-support systems are all areas where information technology can remove some of the friction from the operations systems in the ASC.
ASCA (2016) What is an ASC? Ambulatory Service Center Association. Retrieved December 14, 2016 from http://www.ascassociation.org/advancingsurgicalcare/aboutascs/industryoverview
Stelfox, H., Gandhi, T., Orav, J. & Gustafson, M. (2005) The relation of patient satisfaction with complaints against physicians and malpractice lawsuits. The American Journal of Medicine. Vol. 118 (10) 1126-1133.
Walshe, K. & Rundall, T. (2001). Evidence-based management: From theory to practice in health care. The Milbank Quarterly. Vol. 79 (3) 429-457.