By Joy Burgess
Sometimes the most basic tasks get overlooked when you’re constantly monitoring the day-to-day operation of your ambulatory surgical center. Running a successful ambulatory surgical center requires careful practice management. Failure to follow essential operational and financial practices can leave an ASC struggling to survive. To ensure success, the following are some of the most important operational and financial practices that every ASC should implement.
Developing and managing a budget is one of the most important financial practices for ASCs. Without a budget, an ASC may quickly begin spending more money than it brings in from patients. Annual budgets should be developed around item expenses, surgical case volume and the revenue expected for each case. To manage the budget, focus on creating variance reports each month and regularly review both supply and labor expenses. By doing so it becomes easier to find areas that are straining the budget, and once those areas are identified, measures can be taken to fix the problems before they become detrimental to the ASC financially.
For any ASC, labor costs are the highest single expense for the center, which means that ASCs must carefully manage these costs. To ensure financial success, ASCs must work on flexing staff members based upon the case volume at any given time. Reducing the number of staff on hand for slow times can save money. Avoiding staff downtime on the job, as well as overtime hours for staff members, will help keep labor costs under control.
“One thing we’ve found that works is using externs,” said Teri Wade, abeo’s ASC billing operations director. “They benefit by learning and we get labor for free. It’s win-win.”
To achieve success, ASCs need to analyze statistics regularly. This operational practice should involve routinely analyzing ASC statistics including, the hours, supplies, net revenue and salaries for each case. Other important statistics to analyze include patient satisfaction, bad debt, cash collections, cash flow and the days a case spends in accounts receivable. Once collected and analyzed, these statistics can be used to adjust practice management strategies to improve overall profitability and success.
Another key operational practice for ASC success is focusing on customer service. Creating strong relationships with patients is important, especially since patients have many choices available today when choosing an ambulatory surgical center. You should also measure and review customer satisfaction regularly, which can be done with verbal feedback, as well as client surveys.
Of course, good customer service goes beyond focusing on relationships with clients. Every ASC should also work to provide excellent customer serve with surgeon partners and schedulers that work with these surgeons. Work to provide efficient scheduling when working with schedulers, ensuring they want to work with your ASC again in the future.
Coding errors, which include incorrect coding and under coding, can result in a huge financial loss for an ASC. These mistakes can result in a lower reimbursement for the ASC. Many ASCs find it beneficial to outsource coding. Outsourcing not only reduces the chance of coding errors, but it can cut costs as well, since outsourcing is generally more cost effective than hiring in-house staff with coding experience.
Without implementing collections policies, accounts receivable can take a substantial hit. Patients should be provided with the ASC’s payment policies in advance. Train staff members to work with patients, providing them with potential payment options and working to procure a down payment, as well as an agreement on a payment plan after the procedure. Training staff members to work with patients to establish a payment plan in advance can reduce the number of claims that end up in collections significantly.
Should you determine that any of these tasks need to be revamped, you might consider taking advantage of abeo’s smart solutions. abeo’s team of ASC experts will work with you to determine what needs to addressed and develop profitable solutions. “We’ll go in and identify what the staff is doing, what the obstacles are and start developing a plan,” said Wade. “There are so many things that get overlooked that just need a third party to look at.”
abeo Management Corporation (abeo) serves as a leading source of revenue cycle management and practice management with a specialization in anesthesia. The company leverages its people, processes, and software to serve independent practices, surgery centers, hospitals and healthcare systems with a scope of services that include billing, coding, transcription, practice management, and business consulting.