Healthcare providers across the board, including surgical facilities, struggle to streamline their revenue because getting patients to pay is not always easy. In fact, medical debt in the United States has become so commonplace that Forbes reported no less than half of Americans struggling with some kind of medical debt.
The financial success of any Ambulatory Surgery Center depends first and foremost on providing excellent healthcare at a reasonable price, but that's an oversimplification. Some ASCs maintain a healthy profit margin while others continually struggle to maintain a solid financial status despite offering similar services with similar results. Often, the difference falls with how things are handled outside the realm of care itself. It's more about how payments are addressed, the status of their managed care contracts, or how well they market themselves to patients.
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.
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.
What other topics would you like to hear about? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don't miss a single post.
Revenue may be up at your Ambulatory Surgery Center, but cash flow may still be tight. Revenue is a long-term measure, while cash flow has a daily impact on your facility. To improve cash flow, focus on day-to-day operational costs. Part of the solution is found in how you handle patient payments; if patients drag their feet before getting around to paying for procedures, cash flow can get tight quickly. Here are some tips to increase cash flow at your ASC in 2021.
It's summertime, when most people think about vacations and enjoying the weather, not having outpatient surgery. Keep the revenue at your ASC from taking a nosedive during the summer months by focusing on ways to keep your facility operating at total capacity and ensure prompt, full payment for procedures.
Price transparency is increasingly becoming part of ASCs’ efforts to improve the patient experience. Here’s why it’s so important.
As ASCs look at ways to run more efficiently, it’s natural to look for strategies to streamline processes with your vendors. With vendors, however, good relationships are key. How can you maintain good relationships with vendors while still maximizing your time?
Two thousand twenty one.
The twofold goal of every ASC is the same: provide excellent ambulatory care, increase revenue. When we think of growing revenue, we often focus only on filling up the OR and working more efficiently. But payment plans are a crucial way to avoid leaving money on the table.