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ASCs: Marketing for Your Small Businesses

ASCs: Marketing for Your Small Business

By ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

Most businesses understand some type of marketing is imperative to compete in today’s economy. Some businesses, especially small businesses like ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), shy away from venturing into new digital platforms due to lack of time, financial resources, or both. However, there are strategic steps small businesses can take to engage in time- and cost-effective digital marketing initiatives.

First, identify your target audience. Begin by collecting appropriate and available customer data, such as age, gender, household income, etc. Ensure the data collected adheres to guidelines established under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Next, identify your marketing goal – the ultimate action you want your customers to take. Because surgery centers do not sell products online, an example of a marketing goal might be to increase the ASC’s web page views.

Now, identify the best platform to engage your patients. Then track the results. This is typically where small businesses need guidance. Although most platforms mentioned below are “free,” they will cost you hours in content creation and maintenance. And, if not managed properly, your customer engagement initiative could fail.[1] However, our goal is to provide tips that boost your confidence, not instill fear!

Let’s start with the basics: managing your ASC’s online profiles (e.g., Google, Yelp, Healthgrades). A 2017 consumer report indicated 97% of consumers use the internet to find a local business and 85% of these consumers trust an online review as much as personal recommendations.[2] The expectation for business to consumer interaction is also high, with nearly 52% of customers expecting a response in seven days or less, especially if the review is negative.[3] Therefore, proactively managing patient reviews and capitalizing on positive patient experience is vital. Checking on these platforms at least once a week will help you stay on top of reviews and show your customers you are listening.

Once your profiles are properly created and managed, look at other free social platforms with a creative eye. Because social media is very interactive, it takes time and dedication to maintain. YouTube can be a great platform to showcase your brand by posting “how-to” videos that display industry expertise. Healthcare entities have used this platform to provide pre/post-operative educational videos for patients, eliminating webinars or in-person classes. Small businesses can also collaborate with their partners. For example, consider working with a device company to produce medical equipment demonstrations or provide patient education with affiliated hospitals.

Most people research medical information online before consulting with a provider. This could be a path that leads information seekers to your service. Instagram is the third largest social media platform. It is estimated to have 700 million active users each month.[4] The age group utilizing it is also diverse, with 18% of users in the 50-64 age group.[5] However, the best way to engage with your audience is to have them do the marketing for you. Social media reviews are the digital equivalent to the good old word-of-mouth. Obtaining referrals from a trusted source goes a long way.

If you are inspired to explore the possibilities of a social media business account, ensure you have proper disclaimers and/or permissions to post customer reviews. The last thing your ASC needs is a lawsuit triggered by a poorly managed marketing initiative.[6]

Marketing automation tools such as GetResponse, Emma, and Marketo are great ways to follow up on successful patient engagement. Not all marketing automation tools are free, but they can help small businesses know when a lead lands on their website, requests information, and participates in other engagement behaviors. The data provided can be used for strategic follow-up through email, short messaging service (SMS), or direct mailers.

Marketing automation may not be for you just yet, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t gather data on marketing efforts. Ensure all marketing campaigns have a call to action that is trackable. Although this is simple advice, many small businesses forget about post-impression behavior tracking. This is voluntary forfeiture of customer data that could benefit your future marketing efforts. The adage, “if it can’t be measured, it can’t be improved,” is applicable here.

In summary, marketing should not be a shot in the dark. Increase your chances of hitting your target by incorporating marketing into your business’s strategic plan. In today’s fast-paced, noisy, and competitive market, small businesses do not have the luxury of bypassing customer engagement and loyalty. Customer engagement should be focused, analyzed, and personalized for the best long-term results.

Alice Beech, Physician Liaison







ASC Policies, Procedures, and Protocols, Oh My!

ASC Policies, Procedures, and Protocols, Oh My!

By ASC Governance, ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

Policies, procedures, and protocols are the lifeblood of an ASC’s operations. These critical guidelines should be clear, concise, and readily accessible to members of the workforce. Sometimes, despite the importance of these standards, locating a comprehensive listing of policies, procedures, and protocols is not easy. When staff members are unable to easily locate a policy for the guidance they need to complete their job duties, they are hampered in their mission to provide efficient and effective service to patients. Frustration arises when time is wasted working through inefficient processes. And, in a surgery center’s fast-paced environment, timeliness is critical to efficiency.

Policies and procedures are written to provide clear and concise context, which in turn promotes consistent performance across teams. Written policies are the guideposts which represent evidence-based practices to be applied in daily functions. When team members cannot locate a policy, mistakes can happen, and clinical care can falter.

The best policies and procedures are well-researched, carefully crafted documents that contain pertinent references. They should also be stripped of bulky words, keeping content current, consistent, and concise. No matter how well written the policy, it is meaningless if it is never read and applied to practice.

How do you know if your staff is knowledgeable of your surgery center’s policies and procedures?

If your staff asks questions which are addressed in the policies and procedures manual, that can be an indicator that they are unfamiliar with your ASC policies and procedures. For example, do they ask, “What policy addresses cleaning point of care devices between patient use?” or “How often must relative humidity be monitored?” These questions indicate your staff either do not know best practices, or your ASC process, or they are unsure where to locate the information.

To address a lack of awareness of policies and procedures, begin by creating open dialogue with your staff. During this process, you may uncover a need for retraining or identify areas in your onboarding process that are insufficient. On the other hand, if your staff reveals competency in the areas where there were questions and they are solely looking for your center’s specific policy, take a step back to review the accessibility of your policies and procedures and determine if they are user friendly. There may be many reasons why staff members do not establish and maintain policy knowledge with ease; communicate with them to find out why.

Are Policies, Procedures, and Protocols Accessible?

Let’s explore the accessibility factor by looking at the history of policies and procedures. In the past, policies and procedures were paper based – typically housed in several large three ring binders. Often, these policy notebooks were strategically placed in the confines of a manager’s office – the person most often responsible for upkeep of written policies. In this model, the binders are not immediately available to the bedside nurse who may benefit greatly if they were in a more convenient, accessible location.

The communication breakdown here can be explained by competing priorities. A manager of a busy ASC is often overwhelmed by the demands of the day. The ongoing task of refreshing policies quickly can easily slip to a lower priority.

A practicing nurse knows to wipe down the gurney and put clean sheets on the bed before the next patient uses it. He or she did not need to read a policy to know this. However, does this same nurse know why only FDA approved disinfectant is used? How much dwell time is needed to kill microorganisms? Which point of care devices need to be cleaned? The answers to these infection prevention practices are critical to current infection control standards and are addressed in written policy. When the policy is read and executed, best practice is displayed by the entire team.

Poor practice, ineffective communication, and inadequate onboarding occur when the cleaning process is vocalized but not provided in written form during the orientation of a new hire. The orientee does their best to repeat what is heard and observed – but a breakdown in the consistency of the function can easily occur. If the employee does not receive enough guidance or resources, he or she may resort to performing the task in the way he or she knows how, relying on previous experience or observations of others. That performance might not adhere to the latest best practices. Alternatively, proper infection control processes are easily achieved as a repeatable task with initial and continuous education resources available.

Sustainable solutions to sharing protocols, policies, and procedures

As ASC leaders, our responsibilities include consistent, reliable management of information. Effective policies contain information that can be easily shared with members of the workforce. Leaders need sustainable solutions that improve how we share policies with staff members.

Here are four goals to consider:

  • Policies are readily available to end users.
  • Policies are accurate and current.
  • Policies are protected from erroneous editing.
  • Policy updates are communicated clearly and in a timely manner to appropriate personnel.

To select a communication platform designed to achieve these goals and secure utilization among all team members, consider the following questions:

  • Does the platform address your identified goals?
  • Can the facility afford the platform?
  • What training is required to launch and implement the platform?
  • What will be gained from using this platform?
  • How will leadership appropriately administer change management?

Not every ASC will be able to adopt the same method, hence the importance of identifying your own goals. Once goals are established, develop leading questions to identify the best tool or process for your surgery center presently and in the foreseeable future.

Is there a better way?

Pinnacle III’s managed facilities recently adopted a technology-based policy management system. This strategic move allows our ASCs to immediately gain access to our surgery center policy library. Placing a clickable icon on every workstation provides employees immediate access to policies. System administration ensures accurate and current content material, maintaining intellectual ownership. To protect policies from incidental tampering, all editing occurs via permissions and a prescribed work flow process.

To facilitate the change management process, staff training was provided upon implementation. Periodic in-services were scheduled following initial implementation. To progress staff adoption, a series of quizzes were prepared for personnel affording them opportunities to practice locating and reading various policies on the platform.

Implementation of this software has decreased employee frustration with inability to locate policies. The software provides a more efficient way to maintain and update policies. Our leadership team is more confident members of the workforce are following policies. This has enhanced the workforce’s ability to achieve compliance to practice standards and defined business operations. The leadership team’s repetitive message, “Let’s view the policy!” and “Did you read the policy?” makes consistency probable.

A technology-based platform may not be the answer for your ASC. However, it is important to understand the pain points and efficiency issues that occur in your center. These critical components are directly tied to patient care. No matter what your solution, make sure you are addressing your policy, procedure, and protocol goals. After all, the best policy ever written is the policy which is accessed, read, and applied to daily practice!

Jean Day, Director, Clinical Education

6 Strategies for Optimizing Patient Satisfaction at Your ASC

6 Strategies for Optimizing Patient Satisfaction at Your ASC

By ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

When it comes to determining the operational successes of an ASC, patient satisfaction scores provide a resource which highlights areas of success and potential areas for improvement. A robust patient satisfaction survey process contributes to better understanding your ASC’s overall outlook for profitability and sustainability. This is more easily understood if we consider patient satisfaction and operational efficiency as a two-way street. Patient satisfaction scores can reveal the operational needs of an ASC. In turn, operational efficiency can influence the customer experience and patient satisfaction scores. As healthcare shifts from fee-for-service to fee-for-value, initiatives such as the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Survey (OAS CAHPS) gains importance for ASCs.

Here are six strategies to increase patient satisfaction and maximize patient throughput. This can be achieved by focusing on efficient processes that improve patient and operational flow.

  1. Improve efficiency in your scheduling process.
    • Encourage physician offices to schedule cases as far in advance as possible.
    • Establish strong working relationships with physician offices to obtain accurate information.
    • Schedule specialties in the same room, whenever possible.
    • Schedule similar surgical sites consecutively.
    • Evaluate and communicate patient criteria to surgeons and staff.
  1. Improve operational efficiencies.
    • Monitor physician block schedules and utilization.
    • Train staff on safety and efficiency.
    • Monitor staffing levels.
    • Provide pre-op interviews via phone or an online patient portal. Obtaining medical histories prior to date of service decreases time spent on this task on the date of service.
    • Monitor OR staff efficiency (e.g., turnover time).
  1. Evaluate your patient satisfaction scores.
    • Ensure your surgery center establishes patient satisfaction return rates and score goals.
    • Review and update questions regularly to ensure they are current and provide valuable information that addresses specific company metrics.
  1. Assess your patient satisfaction program and complaint resolution process.
    • Patient satisfaction is a significant part of an ongoing quality program. Ensure your patient satisfaction information ties into your key performance indicator (KPI) reporting program so you can analyze and develop specific performance improvement initiatives tailored to your ASC. Centers can assess trends allowing them to quickly identify ways to recognize consumer concerns, areas of weakness, and areas of strengths. For example, patient satisfaction scores at an ASC Pinnacle III manages were affected by financial information not getting to patients in a timely manner. The center determined a financial counselor position might be needed to not only enhance consumer satisfaction but increase the center’s time of service collection of patient payments. A financial counselor position was added. The center is now measuring the response to the counselor position with its satisfaction survey scores and time of service collections throughput.
      • Best practice in complaint resolution requires administration to review all patient complaints. The administrator is responsible for the investigation of, and follow-up on, patient complaints. Resolution may take several forms depending on the complaint. The patient may be contacted via phone for further conversation and/or resolution, while other complaints may require a written letter. The administrator should consider the complaint to determine what internal correction of policy or personnel issues need to take place.
  1. Ensure medical staff satisfaction. Medical staff feedback and satisfaction is important to patient satisfaction. Why? Happy physicians mean happy patients. To ensure satisfaction:
    • Visit with physicians to obtain direct input on equipment needs, staff performance, operational efficiency expectations, etc. Check-in with your physicians routinely to ensure their needs are being met.
      • Use information gleaned from physicians to improve processes.
      • Gather information from physicians via anonymous physician surveys.
  1. Create a positive customer-focused culture.
    • When you create a positive customer-focused culture within your team of physicians and staff, patients will reap the benefits.

It is not difficult to make the connection between the operational efficiency of an ASC and that ASC’s level of patient satisfaction. As we modify and improve our ability to provide quality service to patients, those patients will notice and our ASCs will experience positive results. The first sign that operations are proceeding well is a marked improvement in patient satisfaction scores. Be careful not to let patient satisfaction surveys become a routine process that is not taken seriously. The scores an ASC receives on patient satisfaction surveys will be reflected in customer loyalty, business growth, profitability, and overall reputation. Listen closely to the valuable feedback your customers provide and implement changes that are attentive to those concerns.

Kelli McMahan, VP of Operations

ASC Marketing and Sales: Keeping Up in an Evolving Industry

ASC Marketing and Sales: Keeping Up in an Evolving Industry

By ASC Development, ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

Marketing your business isn’t easy. Having a comprehensive marketing strategy is especially important in dynamic markets where change is the norm. In health care, and especially in the ASC industry, effective leaders tend to focus on concrete operational and administrative items that keep the doors open for business. Surgery centers often operate with a precise number of staff designed to support the current client base. An all hands-on deck culture leaves limited time to consider, let alone implement, a robust ASC marketing and sales strategy. Some stakeholders may argue a robust ASC marketing and sales strategy is not vital – after all, physician practices drive business to the site of care. While this is true, environments change. Those who are committed to tactics that have worked well in the past may soon find they have been left behind.

What is an effective way to go about marketing an ASC? Here are some strategies to consider.

Selling – Manipulation v. Persuasion

It is said, “Any successful business sells well.” What does that mean exactly and how does it apply to surgery centers?

As an administrator in a health care entity, it may be difficult to imagine yourself selling as one does, let’s say, in a retail store. When we think of health care in a typical clinical environment, we picture sick patients, caring providers, medical equipment, medicines, and other related items. It can be difficult to imagine selling in the health care arena. In fact, it almost feels wrong – perhaps because most health care isn’t elective. However, I would venture to say this is true only if you consider the old school perception of selling. What do I mean? The old mindset of selling embodies characteristics of manipulation which, by definition, entails, “artful, unfair, or insidious means.” There is a much stronger ethical consideration in health care than in many other industries. Artful, unfair, and insidious means go against the ethics of medical practice.

Shifts towards globalization and mainstream use of technology have allowed for greater sharing of consumer insights. Consumers in turn have become more savvy. Selling now focuses more on persuasion. Persuasion means to move by “argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position or course of action.” Selling deals with intent, purpose, and an end goal. If the end goal is to rip people off, then, yes, selling feels terrible. That is manipulation. However, health care leaders can expect to feel something different when their selling mindset moves toward persuasion.

The Norwegian word for sell is “selje,” which directly translates to, “to serve.” As a business operator, if you believe you are there to serve the marketplace, customers will find ways to buy your services because you are serving them. With this shift in perspective, selling becomes more palatable for our surgery centers, right?

Understand Your Customer

The best way to attract customers – new patients or physicians – is to understand your prospects. Health care providers ask leading questions to understand the root cause of a health problem. The same practice holds true with your customers.

Let’s say you want to recruit a spine surgeon who just moved into your market. What are your next steps?

How about a visit to the surgeon’s practice, bringing his or her favorite lunch and dessert, to entice the surgeon to stick around while you rave about how great your surgery center is for his/her cases? This represents the old way of selling. And many physician recruiters would feel good about this method because you walked in with intent, purpose, and an end goal. But you would be doing yourself, the physician, and the surgery center a huge disservice if you didn’t take the time to understand the real needs of the physician. The favorite lunch and dessert will only satisfy for a short while. The positive statements in favor of the surgery center will only maintain impact until the physician experiences a negative event that doesn’t measure up to these claims. Even though this sales approach may provide immediate success, it is wiser to invest more effort in understanding the physician’s needs.

Taking time to get to know the physician and asking the right questions will create and sustain a longer-term relationship with them, which should be the real end goal. Another reason to ask the right questions is to assist customers articulate their needs. Your exercise may help get them to a place where they feel better about taking a step forward with you. Conversely, you may encounter a physician who has his or her defenses up because they have run into someone who sold, manipulated, and ripped them off in the past.

How can you engage physician recruitment prospects in deeper conversations about their needs? Here are some examples of focused questions to get you started in better understanding your customer.

  1. “I understand you just moved into the area. Where would you like to see your practice go in the next 3-5-years?” or “What are your goals for you and your practice in the next 3-5 years?”
  2. “What are your current patient demographics? Are there any additional cases or services you would like to start performing?”
  3. “Are there any special equipment needs for your surgical cases?”
  4. “Have you worked in an ASC before?” If yes, “What are some of the best or worst things that have shaped your ASC experiences? What things do you wish you could have changed? What things have you enjoyed?”

To accurately gauge if you are asking the right questions, determine if you are simply selling to your customer or truly servicing them. Servicing your customer entails understanding their needs first, rather than presenting to them what you think they want.

When you ask better questions of your customer, you get better responses about pain points and aspects your customer expects from your service. These answers can help you pinpoint how your ASC stands out from competitors. Sometimes your ASC is a better site of care for a physician; sometimes it’s not. Not being able to serve every client’s needs is okay. Develop your strategy, then focus on servicing your clients if it makes sense for you, your staff, and the business. Avoid being stagnant. Communication about your customers’ needs allows you to uncover hidden opportunities for business growth which can yield untapped profit.

Understand Customers’ Preferred Channels of Communication

Once you obtain the answers you need from your customers, work to understand how your customers want to receive future information and communication. Do they prefer phone calls, texts, emails, or paper communication? Do preferences change depending on the content? Identify when it is appropriate to send out a mass form of communication to all clients and when to communicate with clients on an individual basis. When you communicate with clients one-on-one, tailor your messaging and communication channel to fit their communication preferences. The best way to find out is to ask!

Making Every Sale Count

The last tip in marketing your surgery center is to make every sale count. Air Force veteran and “sales whisperer” Wes Schaeffer claims, “To make any sale, you must make every sale.” He goes on to explain: “Suppose you are going on a date. You would brush your teeth, dress up nice, approach with a smile, and perhaps pay for dinner. All these little gestures are viewed as little sales along the way, contributing to a larger sale.”

The same holds true for your surgery center. Some of the little sales to consider as part of your larger ASC marketing and sales strategy are:

  1. Is your pre-registration pamphlet easy for patients to read and understand?
  2. Can patients easily navigate your website? Is your website enticing to patients? Do they get a good feel for the care they will receive at your facility?
  3. Do patients receive any form of communication prior to their procedure to ensure they are ready?
  4. Do front desk personnel warmly greet patients and/or friends and family when they arrive?
  5. Do your nurses and providers explain all necessary steps and set up expectations throughout each patient’s episode of care?

This is just an example of some of the mini-sales opportunities that occur when providing service to patients. There are many more touch-points in the patient journey. Each of these touch-points allow an opportunity to complete a mini-sale.

What works for your surgery center today, may not work for your surgery center tomorrow. Opportunities to improve customer experience occur with technology updates and patron preferences. The customer experience should be monitored, updated, and modified over time. The best way to identify the quality of your customers’ experiences is through patient satisfaction surveys and online reviews. Identifying how your customers navigate through your supply chain, including all the mini-sales touch-points, lends itself to better customer experiences and opportunities to retain customers long-term.

Effective ASC Marketing and Sales Drives Business

ASC marketing and sales requires an unceasing commitment. Customer needs are your number one priority in providing services, whether that customer is a physician or patient. Ensure you prominently address those needs in your strategic plan.

Effective ASC marketing and sales expresses your story. Never forget, your sales pitch should reveal your passion – to provide the highest quality service to consumers. As every consumer and every industry is different, so too is every business and every sales pitch. When you embrace the unique direction your customer base is encouraging you to move in, customer loyalty and unique service offerings will drive your business growth.

Trista Sandoval, VP of Business Development & Physician Relations

Welcome Aboard: Â Great Reasons to Become an ASC Nurse

Welcome Aboard: Great Reasons to Become an ASC Nurse

By ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

Nursing jobs are aplenty and there are no signs of this changing any time soon. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026 – much faster than the average for all occupations.[1] Factors contributing to this rosy job outlook include employment growth in the health care sector and the need to replace retiring nurses.

With ample nursing job openings, qualified nurses can be selective about their work environment. A question nurses must answer is: “In what type of care environment do I want to work?” One of the more rewarding and enjoyable opportunities is serving as an ASC nurse.

Advantages of Working as an ASC Nurse

Here are some of the most compelling arguments for why nurses may want to set their sights on landing a position in an ASC.

  1. Better work-life balance. ASC staff do not typically work weekends or holiday hours. Weekday shifts tend to end at a reasonable time – usually, there’s no burning the midnight oil. If you want evenings, weekends, and holidays free, these are typical perks of being an ASC nurse.

There is a trend of ASCs opening on an occasional Saturday to help meet patient scheduling needs. Some ASC nurses jump at the opportunity to work this shift as it often frees up a weekday. An open weekday is a great time to take care of appointments and errands while most people are working. Depending upon your interests, that weekday may be the prime time to pursue recreational activities.

  1. Opportunity for cross-training. Are you interested in expanding your skill set while on the job? The ASC setting is the place for you. ASCs run a lean staff, with team members expected to wear many hats. For an ASC nurse, this may entail assuming roles such as risk manager, quality improvement director, or infection control specialist. Some ASCs ask clinical staff if they are interested in cross-training in what may seem like unusual areas. These can include patient registration, sterile processing, and materials management.

Cross-training affords nurses opportunities to expand their education and skills while still focusing on patient care. Cross-training may also provide an opportunity for nurses to work more hours, if the need arises.

  1. Strong team cohesion. Hospitals, due to their physical and staff sizes, tend to be departmentalized, experience greater staff turnover, and rely upon more temporary staff. ASCs, with their small, cross-trained staff, naturally lend themselves to stronger team cohesiveness and efficiency. It doesn’t take long for a new ASC nurse to meet all coworkers and understand their job roles. By working with the same people day in and out, ASC staff develop powerful, often family-like bonds.

This familiarity helps develop comfort with and confidence in one another. It also improves communication and interaction between team members. The results: greater staff, patient and physician satisfaction; stronger workflow; reduced risks and, typically, better outcomes.

  1. Closer relationships with patients. Patients who seek treatment at an ASC are in generally good health. They lack severe comorbidities. Undergoing surgery in an ASC tends to be less stressful compared to requiring emergent hospital care.

These factors allow ASC nurses to get to know their patients on a more personal level. There’s time for conversations with patients and family members. It’s not unusual for one or more staff members to discover a social connection with patients. As these bonds develop, patients move beyond being a medical record number and diagnosis. It is a rewarding experience to deliver care to someone you know on a more personal level.

  1. Bonus program. In many ASCs, once the facility achieves profitability, leadership will implement a bonus program. This allows staff to take greater ownership of how well the entire business performs. For an ASC nurse, this may include influencing patient satisfaction, room turnover rate, survey performance, and cost containment.
  2. Faster decision-making. In a hospital, change tends to be slow. For example, if clinical staff are unhappy with a type of surgical glove, changing brands usually requires a lengthy approval process. This can include multiple trials and levels of leadership approval, potentially taking many weeks.

In the ASC, the decision-making process is usually linear and quick. Unhappy with a product? It may only take a day or two to switch.

Answer These Questions Before Pursuing an ASC Nurse Job

The pros listed above represent just a portion of the many reasons why serving as an ASC nurse is rewarding. However, working in the ASC environment may not be for everyone. Before you begin applying to ASC job openings, consider these questions:

  • Do you need a guaranteed shift? ASCs tend to staff for the cases on their schedule. When there is not a full schedule, staff are often sent home. At times, there may be opportunities to fill some open schedule time with special projects. Even then, flexible scheduling tends to be a fact of life for an ASC nurse.
  • Are you looking for a rush? ASCs perform scheduled, elective procedures. Surprises are unwanted. If they happen, it usually indicates something has gone wrong, potentially jeopardizing safety. Want the adrenaline surge of coming into work not knowing what will happen or what you will need to do? You won’t find that in a well-run ASC.
  • Do you want to move up the leadership ladder quickly? There are few management roles within an ASC. If your desire is to rapidly advance into a management role, the ASC setting likely won’t lend itself to quick upward mobility. It is important to note, however, if you work in an ASC managed by a larger company, there may be more opportunities for advancement – assuming you’re willing to relocate.
  • Do you work best independently? ASCs thrive on teamwork. Most projects require it. If you tend to work most effectively on your own, an ASC probably isn’t a good fit.

Still unsure about whether you want to work as an ASC nurse? Consider reaching out to a local ASC and speak with its clinical director or director of nursing. Ask this person to tell you what they love about working in a surgery center. Find out if you can visit, tour the facility, and speak with other members of the nursing staff. There’s a good chance that working as an ASC nurse will check many of the boxes on your desired job qualities list.

Lisa Austin, VP of Facility Development


Developing a Successful ASC Staff Onboarding Program

Developing a Successful ASC Staff Onboarding Program

By ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

Onboarding plays a vital role in the success of new hires. An effective ASC staff onboarding program helps new employees acclimate to their role and environment while learning rules and responsibilities. Effective onboarding is also critical to employee retention. Staff are more likely to be satisfied, productive team members when they are provided with the knowledge and training needed to thrive in their positions. Some estimates put the cost of replacing an employee as high as 150 percent of their annual salary.[1] Retaining staff has a direct, positive impact on your bottom line.

ASC Onboarding Best Practices

To help improve the success of your ASC onboarding program, consider these recommendations.

Choose your HR representative carefully. The individual overseeing your human resources (HR) responsibilities is likely the first person new hires will meet on their first day of employment. This meeting sets the tone for the entire ASC onboarding experience. It’s your ASC’s opportunity to make a positive first impression and establish the standard for your positive culture. Your HR representative should be warm and approachable. New employees should come away from their time spent with HR feeling welcomed and valued. They should also understand your ASC’s plan and commitment to helping ensure they excel in their position.

Don’t move too fast. While you may be tempted to put new hires to work right away, refrain from extending too much responsibility too early. Improve the likelihood of job success by allocating appropriate time to cover essential rules and processes. This can include mandatory training, use of your ASC’s patient accounting system, emergency preparedness, and departmental policies and procedures. For new clinical staff members, complete this education and associated paperwork before they begin providing patient care. For new business office staff members, do so before they tackle any business tasks, especially those requiring compliance with HIPAA.

Be consistent. If multiple team members educate new staff, try to ensure training is consistent. Doing so will help you measure training results and efficiently address areas for improvement.

For example, many ASCs assign preceptors to new clinical staff. Each preceptor should know what they need to review to deliver complete, effective training. If you identify shortcomings, it will be easier to train all preceptors on the new information. This will provide confidence that new staff receive this revised education regardless of who fills the preceptor role.

Measure competency progress. As new hires move through your ASC onboarding process, measure their competency progress. One mechanism to consider using is a checklist. As new staff demonstrate proficiency in critical areas, the individuals tasked with overseeing training can indicate on the checklist that competency has been achieved. The checklist can also remind trainers to provide more focus on areas of competency deficits identified during the ASC onboarding process.

Check in periodically. Managers should periodically check in with new staff members throughout their training. While you can make this a formal process, such as scheduling time to speak after 30 and/or 60 days, informal discussions can be beneficial as well. Pull new hires aside at appropriate times to ask about the ASC onboarding process thus far. Are they receiving the training they need? Are questions being answered? How are they getting along with their trainers? Have they encountered any problems?

By asking these types of questions, you may discover opportunities to improve the ASC onboarding experience. After all, you want to make training as successful as possible. Everyone benefits if you can identify worthwhile changes earlier in the process.

Perform formal evaluation. At the end of the onboarding process, schedule a formal evaluation of new hires. Gather notes from trainers and any tools used to measure competency. Ask new hires specific questions about their role and responsibilities. Review competencies, verifying that new hires are adequately prepared to provide services without constant oversight.

If trainers have noted competencies in need of improvement, use this meeting to discuss how to address any limitations. Some areas may simply require reviewing educational materials at the meeting. If that will not suffice, you may need to extend training, focusing on competencies still requiring attention.

Hire Smart to Boost ASC Onboarding Success

The key to a successful ASC onboarding process is a successful hiring process. The onboarding process uses precious time and resources, including the skills and energy of multiple employees. You don’t want to waste these efforts on people who aren’t a good fit and do not remain with your ASC for long.

Here are some quick tips to help improve your hiring process:

  • Don’t hire too quickly. Unfilled job openings may require current staff to work overtime or your ASC to use part-time help. These options are better than rushing to hire people who might lack the qualifications to effectively fill positions.
  • Hire to fit your current culture. It’s important that new hires have the professional skills to fill your job openings. You also need individuals who possess strong interpersonal skills. New hires should contribute to your positive culture and encourage other team members to strive to succeed. Remember, one negative person can seriously damage your facility’s culture.
  • Look for shared vision. The people you hire should possess a vision for the ASC that aligns with that of your facility. For example, if you value compassion and productivity, look for those qualities in candidates.
  • Conduct initial interviews over the phone. Resumes, cover letters, and references only tell part of potential candidates’ stories. Before proceeding with face-to-face interviews, schedule telephone interviews. Go through a set list of questions to help determine whether candidates seem professionally and personally qualified for your openings. If you sense a good potential fit, proceed with in-person interviews. You’ll already have a feel for each candidate’s personality before they arrive, which should help interviews progress efficiently and effectively.

A careful, thoughtful hiring process is more likely to identify candidates who are likely to be successful in your environment. Once they arrive, an onboarding program focused on productivity and satisfaction will increase the likelihood new employees remain with your ASC for many years to come.

Jennifer Arellano, Director of Operations


Avoiding the Cost of a Bad Hire through Strategic Interviews

Avoiding the Cost of a Bad Hire through Strategic Interviews

By ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

It is undeniable hiring personnel is tough. In the fast-paced, dynamic ASC industry, there is little room, if any, to proactively hire candidates. OR nurses and surgical technicians are scarce with ASCs facing significant competition for those resources with other health care organizations. With these factors at play, we often rush to fill open positions. Current staff may be overextended sapping them of energy required to participate effectively in the hiring process. When everyone is anxious to fill the void or expand the team, we overlook flaws in candidates. We end up hiring people who don’t really meet our job-related needs and end up costing the company more in the long run.

Recognize the True Costs of a Bad Hire

The expenses associated with recruitment and new employee onboarding are more significant than most of us realize. Consider the following:

If you are using a free job posting platform, you may think you aren’t incurring any recruitment fees. However, if you and your staff are preparing and placing open positions on these platforms, that takes time – one of your most precious resources. Screening applicants, conducting strategic interviews, preparing offer letters, and negotiating employment terms all come with a time and energy price tag. Tack on the fees associated with background checks, drug screens, pre-employment physicals, and/or relocation packages and you have a good idea of what it costs to secure the services of a new team member. If you use the services of a professional recruiter, the costs associated with new hire recruitment can increase exponentially.

But it doesn’t stop there. Factor in the costs of onboarding which may include the following:

  • Time spent preparing and processing new hire paperwork
  • Time spent explaining benefit offerings and processing new hire enrollment elections
  • Time spent conducting organizational and departmental orientation
  • Costs associated with compliance training platforms
  • Time spent training and mentoring new team members
  • Time spent conducting competency assessments

And onboarding isn’t a one day, one week, or even one-month process. Onboarding should last for months with scheduled check-ins at one week, 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days. If you and your new team member have chosen well, the costs associated with recruitment and onboarding result in a return on your investment over the course of the employee’s tenure with your organization.

However, if your new employee doesn’t work out, the costs escalate. To calculate the cost of a “bad” hire – we are not passing judgments on people, we’re referring to a poor fit – add these potential outlays to the loss of everything spent on your new hire thus far:

  • Additional recruitment fees and staff time spent securing a replacement
  • Relocation and training for a replacement
  • Negative impact on team performance
  • Disruption to workflow
  • Potential for lost customers
  • Weakened employer brand
  • Job separation and/or litigation fees

To obtain the right person for the job, you need to know what you’re looking for, ask the right questions, and accurately discern candidate responses. This “simple” formula requires forethought, planning, communication, staff training, and a commitment to press on until you identify an “ideal” candidate.

Conduct Strategic Interviews

If your organization doesn’t have a standardized strategic interviewing process, create one. You’ll reduce the odds of making poor selection decisions when your hiring managers are provided with tools to formulate good questions and effectively evaluate candidates.

Standardized interviews ensure the process is consistent for all candidates. Strategic interviews for each vacancy should be conducted by the same set of interviewers for all candidates. Similarly, strategic interview questions should not vary from one candidate to the next. This allows for a better apples-to-apples comparison during your hiring team’s debriefing sessions.

Development of interview questions should be thoughtful, focusing on the competencies – knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) – required to be successful in the job as well as the attributes required to be effective in the position, department, and organization. Well-formulated job descriptions will help you identify the critical success factors for each position. It may also help to consider the attributes of your top-performing personnel.

Here are some KSAs to consider:

  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Strategic thinking
  • Ethical practice
  • Reliability
  • Initiative
  • Credibility and personal effectiveness
  • Collaboration and teamwork orientation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Customer/client focus
  • Leadership

Strategic interview questions can fit into various categories – general, behavioral, situational, and technical. An often-used general question posed at the outset of many interviews is, “Tell me about yourself.” Behavioral questions focus on the candidate’s past experience as a means of predicting future behavior and performance. An example is, “What was one of the toughest problems you ever solved? What process did you go through to solve it?” Situational questions provide the candidate with a hypothetical scenario and ask how they would respond given the situation described. For example, “You complete a task early. What do you do with your extra time?” Technical questions tend to be specific to a role. You might ask an infection preventionist, “How do you keep employees abreast of the latest developments in infection control? What types of surveillance techniques do you find most effective?” Develop a healthy mix of these types of questions based on KSAs identified as critical success factors for each position. Focusing solely on skills and experience can lead to overlooking an applicant’s true potential or minimize behaviors that are inconsistent with company values.

Strategic interviews aren’t merely about employers posing questions and soliciting information from interviewees. They provide your applicants with an opportunity to get to know you and your organization. Ensure you allot time for candidates to ask you and your team questions. Strive to properly convey your brand and culture to applicants.

Finally, ensure everyone involved in the strategic interviewing process has the tools they need to avoid asking inappropriate questions. Provide them with a list of illegal questions and alternate phrasing to obtain the answers they need. Here are a few examples:

  • Instead of asking “Can you get a babysitter on short notice for overtime or travel?” ask “You’ll be asked to work overtime or travel on short notice. Will this be a problem for you?”
  • Instead of asking “Is English your first language?” or “What is your native tongue?” ask “What languages can you read, write, or speak fluently?”
  • Instead of asking “How old are you?” ask “Are you over the age of 18?”

It’s easy for inexperienced hiring personnel to unwittingly phrase a question inappropriately. Set your team up for success by preparing them ahead of time. Ask them to stick to the script. They can convey their engagement to candidates via a friendly handshake, smile, and thanking them for their time or candor.


A well-formed talent recruitment strategy in the ASC industry is crucial to running a successful organization. Strategic interviews minimize the risk of a bad hire by ensuring you perform due diligence in vetting potential employees’ skills, experiences, capabilities, and cultural fit for your organization. Taking the time to create a strategic interview process positions your interviewing team to ask the right questions. When you gain a deeper understanding of potential new hires, you save time and money in the long run.

Kim Woodruff, VP of Human Resources & Compliance

Strengthening ASC Communications with Physician Practices

Strengthening ASC Communications with Physician Practices

By ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

Physician practices hold a key role in determining the success of an ASC. Because a primary ASC business driver is the center’s partnered physician practices, prioritizing good ASC communications with physician practices is a must. Making it easy for practices to schedule cases at your ASC will increase the likelihood of capturing volume. Critical to achieving this with ease: strong ASC communications with affiliated practices.

When your surgery center develops effective communications with physician practices and their staff, the benefits are typically widespread. Scheduling is streamlined. Information sharing becomes more seamless. Questions – from patients as well as ASC and practice personnel – receive prompt answers. Surgeon satisfaction increases.

These factors contribute to the likelihood that practices will schedule cases at your ASC. They also help support the delivery of exceptional care and a great patient experience at the ASC and practice.

Guidance to Boost ASC Communications

Follow these tips to improve your ASC communications with practice personnel.

Develop strong administrative relationships. When the administrative leaders of ASCs and practices work well together, this creates a foundation for a successful partnership. Whoever manages the daily operations of your ASC should get to know the practice manager(s). Schedule a time to meet, perhaps over lunch, to discuss ways in which the organizations can work more effectively together.

Don’t just make the meeting about work. Sharing and learning some personal information can help create stronger bonds and even friendships.

Schedule social outings for front office staffs. Practice schedulers often have significant control over where their surgeons perform procedures. When schedulers think favorably about a facility, they may be more inclined to direct cases to that organization rather than a competing facility.

Consider arranging a meal or happy hour for practice schedulers and your ASC’s front office personnel. This is an opportunity for individuals working together virtually to learn about each other and put faces to names.

Hold periodic front office staff meetings. While social engagements can help bring different office staffs together, they’re typically not ideal for addressing areas for improvement. Notice a decline in scheduled cases tied to a specific practice or physician? Unsure why cases appropriate for your ASC are scheduled elsewhere? Try to arrange a meeting between the front office staff in your ASC and the practice’s front office employees. This creates an opportunity to discuss what’s working and what isn’t. Ask what you can do to improve your ASC communications and help the practice. Use the meeting to brainstorm ways to resolve problems and create better efficiencies.

Celebrate together. If your ASC hosts a summer picnic or an annual holiday party, consider extending an invitation to the staff of your affiliated practices. The first time you try this, the results might look like a junior high dance: ASC staff with ASC staff, practice staff with practice staff. Over time, however, the groups are more likely to mingle and bond.

Note: Social gatherings that combine ASC and practice staff will be easier to organize if your center is only affiliated with a few practices. If your ASC has many affiliated practices, you may need to weigh the practicality of a single, large event or more frequent, smaller get-togethers.

Provide resources. Many ASCs provide their affiliated practices with information about the ASC that is intended for patients. There’s also value in supplying practices with ASC information designed for the practice itself. Consider developing a brochure or pamphlet that includes the following:

  • an overview of your ASC, its services and typical hours of operation;
  • preferred methods of communication (e.g., phone, email, website form, portal);
  • scheduling process;
  • names and contact information of managers; and
  • communication process in the event of a problem/emergency.

You may also want to consider developing a “cheat sheet” for practice schedulers. Include step-by-step scheduling process instructions and contact information if a scheduler has a question. This resource may help existing schedulers book cases at your ASC and should prove useful when the practice hires new schedulers.

Breaking the Ice: Starting Your ASC Communications Outreach

The tips provided above can further strengthen communications with existing affiliated practices. You will also want a strategy in place for initial outreach to new affiliated practices.

This outreach should include a visit to the practice. Identify individuals who will interact most with the practice (e.g., administrator, clinical manager, scheduler) and can represent your ASC well. Dispatch them to the practice, bearing welcome gifts, such as bagels or donuts. Find a time – sooner than later – during which you can present your ASC, highlighting why your facility should be the site of choice for procedures. Even a 30-minute initial meeting can help open the lines of ASC communications with a practice and start the new partnership on a path to success.


Continuity of care and patient experience are improved when ASC and affiliated physician practices prioritize communication. Use a multi-faceted approach when establishing an open line of communication with physician practices. The benefits experienced by your ASC, affiliated physician practices, and patients will be equally multi-faceted.

Catherine Sayers, Director of Operations

Does Securing a Team Partner Make Sense for Your ASC?

Does Securing a Team Partner Make Sense for Your ASC?

By ASC Development, ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

I recently read a theory about teams in the workplace from a variety of sources including General Stanley McChrystal’s book, “Team of Teams,” which entails a process of employing many small specialized teams to tackle large complicated issues. Hiring teams of individuals in unison to accomplish a goal is not new to many businesses. When college football teams change head coaches, for example, an entire staff of ancillary/associate coaches may accompany the new coach. Thus, a new team is hired.

In other cases, a team of individuals is assembled one at a time. For example, I have a friend in the advertising business who has worked as part of a team which was assembled over the years and hired by different agencies to provide writing and graphic design services. The individuals that make up this advertising team were hired one at a time as the agency grew. In music, there are many famous teams of song writers. In the corporate world, companies purchase other businesses and acquire teams to add a service or function they do not currently possess or offer. Think of Google’s acquisition of Android, Nest, Waze, and YouTube

Hiring teams can also occur via outsourcing. Or as I prefer to call it, by securing a “team partner.” Groups seek out organizations to partner with that specialize in ready-built teams in their respective industry, rather than build a team from scratch.

Outsourcing has at times received a negative reputation. Many business leaders question outsourcing anything. However, health care is morphing and changing daily. If a leader does not take the time to assess opportunities or approaches outside their organization’s usual way of thinking, maintaining the status quo could become detrimental and costly. It is perfectly normal, and oftentimes most beneficial, to ask for help in finding and hiring teams from an industry expert.

Why should an ASC consider hiring a team partner?

  1. Locate and tap into existing expertise. Hiring an industry team partner allows an ASC to quickly access qualified candidates with a history of success. While past success is not a sure sign of future success, it is a much better indicator than no past experience or a history of no success. While there are no guarantees a new internal team will succeed, the proven track record of a team partner is generally worth the price – both in dollars and time.
  2. Time is of the essence. You will rarely hear an organization say, “There are no time constraints to launch this project or fix this issue.” While building expertise from within, or tapping into internal resources may seem safe, it typically isn’t expeditious in our fast-paced health care environment. Learning takes time. Becoming an expert takes even more time. Often, learning on the job is not a luxury we possess. A team partner allows for immediate impact.
  3. No team bonding needed. High performing teams have a proven track record of working extremely well together. New teams, on the other hand, need time to create chemistry and build trust. Selecting experienced individuals with the proper skill-set and culture, then creating a team to elicit results and meet expectations is time consuming. Consider hiring an ASC team partner to access established teams. Bringing on an established team provides more timely dividends.
  4. Internal change is difficult. If change was easy, there would not be a multi-billion dollar industry built around helping individuals or organizations with their change management efforts. Many organizations will hire a single individual or even multiple individuals to create a new service offering. Within a few months or a year, those individuals may begin to think and act like everyone else leaving their original goals unaccomplished. Team partnering allows an organization to tap into an alternative corporate culture to advance a new initiative or gain buy-in to a critical mindset change.
  5. Acquire the crossover effect. Organizations experience a period of plasticity in their identity when there is a large influx of new employees. This period of change is known as the crossover effect. The crossover effect can be viewed as positive disruption. The spread of new ideas and new ways of working bring new life to the host organization. Often a newly hired team can affect other, more established teams within the organization via positive disruption.

Business owners and leaders are all striving for gains and improvement in the performance of their people and organizations. In many cases, changing our perceptions, practices, and personnel will be required to achieve those gains. Thoughtfully consider if hiring team partners might help your ASC acquire the individuals needed to facilitate some of those changes in the most expeditious, beneficial manner possible.

Robert Carrera, President/CEO

Simple, Effective Ways to Boost ASC Staff Satisfaction

Simple, Effective Ways to Boost ASC Staff Satisfaction

By ASC Management, Leadership No Comments

There is no denying the importance of staff satisfaction in an ASC. When staff are content with their jobs, the positivity permeates throughout the facility. Patients and their families notice. Physicians enjoy coming to the center more and overall care improves.

In a busy ASC, managers may find it challenging to plan activities intended to help boost staff satisfaction. Although it is often difficult to make the time, such activities are critical. And, once you commit to them, they should occur regularly. If you employ good staff, you can be sure other organizations would love to hire them away from you. The moment staff morale starts to dip, the door begins to open for your competition.

ASC administrators and managers who want to boost staff morale have many employee engagement options. Two staff-focused activities commonly implemented at ASCs and other health care facilities designed to improve staff satisfaction and retention are outlined below. They are fun, inexpensive, and easy to administer.

Staff Satisfaction Booster #1: Monthly Birthday Celebrations

Most people enjoy celebrating their birthday with others. That’s why birthday celebrations are an excellent opportunity to show appreciation for staff members. They present an opportunity for ASC staff to gather during work hours, have some fun, and receive a treat.

In a very small ASC, it might be possible to celebrate everyone’s birthday individually. As an ASC grows, that becomes more difficult. For a staff of 50, a birthday celebration could occur every week. This adds up to a lot of time . . . and a lot of cake! Additionally, the celebrations may quickly lose their luster if conducted too frequently. One solution is monthly birthday celebrations.

Once a month, around the same time each month, celebrate the birthday of everyone born that month. Buy a large enough birthday cake to provide all team members with a piece. During the lunch hour, available staff come together in the break room. Anyone with a birthday that month is recognized.

By taking this approach, no birthdays are missed. It doesn’t matter if someone’s birthday falls on a weekend or holiday. During monthly celebrations, everyone is acknowledged equally. With a month between celebrations, excitement builds over the get-together and, of course, free cake.

Staff Satisfaction Booster #2: High-Five Appreciation Program

High-fives between people are a way of acknowledging a job well done. That’s the objective of the high-five appreciation program. Rather than staff giving each other physical high-fives (which they can still do), these high-fives are written and recorded.

The materials needed to launch this program are a bulletin board, thumbtacks, paper, pencil, and scissors. Trace hand figures on paper and cut them out. I recommend streamlining the process by cutting multiple sheets at a time. Repeat this process until you have a large stack of paper hands.

When staff members see another team member doing something they feel is worthy of a high-five, they make a note of the outstanding action on a paper hand and then tack the hand to the bulletin board. Items written on the hand include:

  • recognized staff member’s name;
  • date of the observed activity; and
  • description of the staff member’s action.

Recognized actions should be specific – notable behaviors or achievements that go beyond a person’s job responsibilities or something someone does well consistently.

If staff are actively participating in the program, a good number of hands will be posted to your bulletin board after about a month. Each month, take the hands down, review them, and pick out a few that stand out as exceptional. Bring staff together to acknowledge the great work recognized during the previous month. When is a good time to do this? How about during the monthly birthday celebration?

After singing happy birthday and handing out cake, read the high-fives that you selected. If your budget permits, providing a small gift to these “winners” can be a nice bonus. Take time to hand out all the high-fives to the staff members acknowledged on them. The simple recognition of a job well done – with or without a gift – is sure to bring smiles to the faces of your team.

Note: There may be value in including high-fives in your staff evaluation process. Before distributing the high-fives, note the acknowledged action(s) in staff personnel files.

Keys to Success

While these activities are easy to implement and sustain, they have a profound effect on staff morale – particularly the high-five program.

To ensure your high-five program is successful, take these steps:

  • Educate staff. At an all-staff meeting, explain how the program works and why you are doing it. Build some excitement.
  • Task your managers with ensuring their departments fill out at least a few hands during the first several months. Regular encouragement by managers to team members during department meetings should help do the trick.
  • Actively promote the program. If your high-five celebration happens on a Thursday, send an email to staff on Monday or Tuesday. Remind staff that the celebration is in a few days and encourage them to submit their high-fives. This will help nudge anyone thinking about completing a high-five to get it done before the celebration.
  • Review the high-fives. If you find people are submitting high-fives that are not representative of the types of actions you want to acknowledge, remind staff about the “rules” and objectives.
  • Seek feedback. Not every staff member will want to be recognized in the same fashion. Take time to seek feedback from staff or your managers on how people feel about the program and being recognized. For example, some individuals would rather you send them a personal note than to be publicly recognized. Tailoring your recognitions will go a long way with your staff.

For the monthly birthday celebrations, the most important step is to ensure the events happen every month, without fail. Once you announce the monthly celebrations, most of your team will look forward to their celebration month. If you stop the celebrations before completing 12 months, you are likely to disappoint staff members who were never in the spotlight.

Consistency is critical for the high-five celebrations as well. By putting in the time and effort, and maintaining the excitement surrounding these activities, your ASC will establish valuable ways to boost staff satisfaction.

Jebby Mathew, Regional Director of Operations