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Maximize the Benefits of Quality Improvement Studies Follow these six easy steps ROBERT KURTZ


SC management experts Kelli McMahan, vice president of

operations for Pinnacle III, a Lakewood, Colorado-based ASC development and management company, and Jesseye Arambide, RN, executive director of Oregon

Outpatient Surgery Center

in Tigard, Oregon, and past president of the Oregon Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, offer advice on ways ASCs can make their quality improvement (QI) studies easier and more valuable. 1. Keep it simple. There is a com- mon perception that QI studies are long, drawn-out processes, but that is not necessarily the case, McMahan says. “I had a surveyor tell me that any time you alter a process, there is an opportunity for a QI study. It is important to measure the impact of the change and whether the change achieved its intended objective. Not every QI study requires a huge spread- sheet of data collection.”

2. Involve staff and physicians. “They are usually in the best posi- tion to identify problems, so they should be encouraged to make suggestions for study topics,” Arrambide says. “I also involve my staff in the data collection and share the results of the stud- ies with them. They feel like they have ownership in the studies and improvements we are making.”

3. Get educated. If your ASC is strug- gling with how to conduct valuable QI studies and identify worthy top- ics, seek out education, McMahan suggests. “National and state ASC associations are typically the best educational resources. Participation in ASC associations connects an ASC’s leadership team with other leaders who can share ideas.”


QI studies afford ASCs the opportunity to improve upon the high quality of care that we already know we provide.”

—Kelli McMahan, Pinnacle III

Education should not be just for upper management, McMa- han notes. “Try to find educational opportunities for your staff. When staff participate in webinars or attend educational meetings, they become more energized and eager to participate.”

4. Network. This is another way to expand your education, McMahan says. “Set up a network with other facilities located nearby to share ideas. Try to hold quarterly meet- ings where the administrators or nurse managers gather to discuss quality studies they are conduct- ing, the data collection they need and the hurdles they encounter.”

5. Use your resources. Arrambide says her QI efforts have improved by using the resources available in her ASC. “There are so many re- ports available to us through our practice management software, so

we can see how well we are per- forming in any number of areas. Trending our performance has also become much easier. There are many benchmarks available to compare where we measure up with other facilities. You can clearly see how well your ASC is performing and whether the changes you make are having the impact you desire.”

6. Build QI into your staffing mod- el. Since ASCs typically function with lean staff, QI studies can sometimes become a lower prior- ity. ASCs cannot afford to let that happen, McMahan says. “Building QI into your


model . . . might require educating your governing board on the importance of QI and the need for allocation of staff time to work on it. QI studies afford ASCs the opportunity to improve upon the high quality of care that we already know we provide.”

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