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hospital, what’s going to make me more attractive to patients.”

How to Keep Your Doctors Happy

Ensure the success of your ASC by building strong, positive relationships with physicians. BY ROBERT KURTZ


uccess in almost any profession is tied directly to the relationships one

develops, and that holds true in the ASC industry, says Bob Scheller of the Lake Porter Physician Group in Crown Point and Hobart, Indiana. It is particularly evident in the relationships administra- tors develop with physicians. “Each group is different and each

physician is different,” Scheller says. “But administrators must learn how to work effectively with all of these indi- viduals and commit the time needed to ensure that their relationships with phy- sicians only get stronger over the life of the ASC.”

This commitment to developing and maintaining strong, positive relation- ships with physicians is critical to the viability of an ASC, says Sandy Ber- reth, administrator of Brainerd Lakes Surgery Center in Baxter, Minnesota. “My philosophy from the very first

minute when I started in an ASC is: I have three customers, and the first cus- tomer is my physicians,” she says. “I will not get patients if my physicians


don’t want to use my center, and I can’t stay in business if I don’t have patients. So I approach each day with the mental- ity that my first customer is my physi- cians, my second customer is my staff. If I take care of my physicians and staff, I’ll have patients and they’ll be well taken care of.”

That is the right approach, says Keith

Metz, MD, anesthesiologist, medical di- rector of Great Lakes Surgical Center in Southfield, Michigan, and member of ASCA’s Board of Directors. “For our surgeons, the ASC is just a component of their practice,” Metz says. “If you recall, all of them had generally successful practices before we enticed them to come to work at our ASCs, which is a money-saving proposition, good for patients and other things . . . but we need to remember that their prime concern is what’s going to make my practice thrive, what’s going to increase my activity with my refer- ring physicians, what’s going to mini- mize my political antagonism with the

Communication is Critical Stuart Katz, director of TMC Orthopae- dic Outpatient Surgery in Tucson, Ari- zona, says the secret to building strong relationships with physicians isn’t much of a secret at all. “Probably the most important thing is communicate, com- municate, communicate. Talk to your physicians. Ask them for their opinion, especially about what you can do to make it easier for them to work in your ASC. It’s not necessarily what equip- ment or instruments you can buy them, although sometimes it is, but it’s usually about what you can do to improve areas such as room turnover time or making sure that when the doctor is ready to work, the next patient is available to be brought into the operating room (OR).” When speaking with your physi-

cians, Berreth says, you must always treat them with the kind of respect you would want. “The biggest thing when you deal with anybody, regardless of whether they’re your physician or em- ployee, is mutual respect. Even if you don’t like the person, you need to al- ways show mutual respect.” She says part of showing mutual re- spect for your physicians is never try- ing to deceive them. “Don’t try to ‘BS’ the doctors. They know when you don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s very important to know your subject.” You should also adequately prepare for discussions on important matters, Scheller says. “You have to learn the business. When a question does come up, it is imperative to know the answer. You never want to have to say, ‘I don’t know; I need to go find out.’” Berreth agrees. “When you go to

your physicians with information, the in- formation you’re bringing them is often new education. The doctors I work with are just that: doctors. They’re surgeons, and what they do is provide care. So whenever I go to them, if it’s a business

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