How do you prepare to recruit new physicians to your surgery center?

The preparation all depends on what stage of the life cycle that the surgery center is in, but a good bit of the process is the same. Let’s start the discussion from the pure recruiting physician’s angle around an existing and operational center cycle.

In the physician recruitment area, one of the first steps is to evaluate the ambulatory surgical center to see if and why any of the current physicians are not bringing all of their qualified cases to the ASC and then what the barriers are to them bringing their cases. Meet with each of the physicians and ask the question: “What can we do differently that will make you more comfortable in bringing all your appropriate cases to the outpatient surgical center?” One of the first steps is to understand where the shortfalls are occurring. The reason that this step is very important is because going forward, ASC operational inefficiencies will strongly affect recruitment and retention of cases and recruiting new doctors to your ambulatory surgery center.

How do you prepare to recruit new physicians to your surgery center? Some of the typical responses

  • Preferences with equipment or instruments not available at the ASC
  • Investments in another surgery center or a procedure suite at their office
  • Hospital politics/pressures
  • Confusion around out-of-network vs. in-network contracting at the ASC
  • Confusion with the surgery center facility cost for cash pay patients
  • Staff or scheduler non-compliance
  • Lack of adherence to start times
  • Lack of familiarity/comfort with ASC staff
  • Lack of transparency – both financially and with executive decisions
  • Third party payer contracts
  • Lack of background research on /compatibility with providers
  • Lack of partner enthusiasm / partner frustration

It is imperative that leadership understands that their top priority is to remove as many barriers as possible so that it is easy for the surgeons/physician to perform all of their qualified cases in this center.

Create pro formas that can quantify the financial benefits adding only a few more cases per month. ASC surgeon-owners must clearly see how incremental case volume growth leads directly to higher margins (given that overhead costs are largely fixed when centers are at breakeven). This helps make the case that the investment of their time in the recruitment process is very profitable.

Evaluate each surgeon’s block times – some surgeons may be able to or open to being flexible with their scheduling in order to accommodate new physicians.

Define the kind of physician you want and can support ,or how you would support physicians that are not married to another ASC. For example, a natural fit for a spine surgery center center is to add pain or other orthopaedic and podiatry. While we at one time could pick and choose what types of specialty docs we wanted to add, this is not the case in all markets. What if you have the physical space that could handle GI, but no GI equipment and you are not making a significant profit to be able to purchase GI equipment. Could you recruit say 3 busy GI physicians  and package them together so they purchase the equipment and then lease it back to the center, essentially creating an endoscopy center? You can justify this since the center is not highly profitable. In other words, you need to be creative through this process.

Determine your recruitment process and who will be responsible for driving it. Putting together a plan will help rally the team and get others bought in. You then will discuss this process with existing partners, physician users and staff. Everyone needs to be on the same page and understand what’s being done, the importance of the process and the value of the process. In other words, get the buy-in and commitment from as many of the current players as possible. We even put together a check list of activities that the team members check off and commit to help with.

Gather current case load statistics such as utilization reports, volume projections and actual cases and current schedules. Get familiar with other metrics like turnover time that you think makes you stick out in a positive way. Collect the equipment list that will allow you to know what cases you can support now.

Create physician recruitment material, such as a one-page fact sheet and a brochure that has pictures of the center, a map of where the center is compared to the hospitals and other landmarks, list of the state of the art equipment, awards, turnover time, and block time available. Use it to tell your unique story and enticing message. Are you 100% physician owned, do you have physical space expansion abilities, what sets you apart from any other center around you? Point of caution: do not have anything in those materials about investing in the surgery center or that there is possibly an opportunity to invest or anything along that line because this is covered under the securities laws which prohibit general solicitation when syndicating a surgery center.

Build a target list of physicians in the area that could do procedures in your ASC. Think broadly here. You can compile a list from many difference sources: the National Provider database, state provider database, research the staff at area hospitals, gather the physicians’ directories, etc.

Anticipate a new physician’s desires and know what you are willing to be flexible on. In most markets there are now a limited number of physicians that can be recruited. Your openness to accommodate will help you in the recruitment efforts. The act of accommodating a physician often requires significantly less effort than the benefits it rewards you.

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Category: Recruiting Surgeons to My Surgery Center
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