Improve Surgeon Satisfaction Invest in OR technology BY ROBERT KURTZ


f you want to keep your surgeons happy, give them the surgical tech- nology they want, says Brian Brown, regional vice president of operations for AmSurg Corporation, an ASC management and development com- pany based in Nashville, Tennessee. “Consider the addition of a fem- tosecond laser,” he says. “It is a rev- enue-producing item that can deliver tremendous marketing value to physi- cians. With the laser, they are able to offer bladeless cataract surgery. This brings in more patients to the physi- cians, which translates to more surger- ies at the ASC. It can also help attract other

surgeons to the ASC, which

grows the business.” ASCs often face low available space and a tight budget, says Jan Rhiner, administrator of the Orthopae- dic Outpatient Surgery Center in West Des Moines, Iowa, that can present challenges when purchasing new tech- nology for the operating room. Still, over the past several years, her ASC has made several significant invest- ments in technology, including new video technology and C-arms. The ASC has about 30 surgeons. It

takes a great deal of work to choose technologies and vendors that satisfy so many physicians and still work within the ASC’s limitations, Rhiner says. “You get a lot of different opin- ions. It is a process, but one that involves our surgeons at every level.” The ASC takes many factors into consideration before making a pur- chase, she says, including price, repair costs and quality of the equipment. Staff performs trials on the brands and models that stand out. “Between the medical director and myself, we speak with surgeons indi- vidually to learn what is important to them and get their feedback on the

options we are weighing,” she says. “It is a direct communication process.” Brown makes it a priority to involve

physicians in financial discussions. “Look at how you can finance and pay for new technology so that it is not a huge burden or debt service on the ASC. You want to make sure updates to operating room technology are fis- cally responsible.”

When weighing the addition of a technology with the potential to pro- duce new revenue, perform a return-on- investment analysis, he advises. “Deter- mine the reimbursement for any new procedures you will be able to perform, how many of those procedures you can expect and the cost of those procedures. Give your physicians the information they need to understand why an invest- ment may or may not be worthwhile.” Rhiner says it is sometimes neces- sary to make a purchase at a less-than- opportune time to appease a surgeon. “When people are trained with certain types of equipment, they often develop


a comfort level and do not want to use anything else. This presents a chal- lenge if we are considering an invest- ment in different technologies. It is a delicate situation. Our board weighs cost effectiveness and what the sur- geon feels is necessary to take care of patients. Sometimes that means we end up with additional vendors, even if we would prefer not to.” When an ASC is not in a position

to invest in the technology physicians want, Brown recommends making sur- geon satisfaction a priority. “You essentially want to over-com- municate with your surgeons,” he says. “Clearly explain why it is not feasible for the purchase to be made and what will need to happen for that piece of technology to fit in your budget. Con- stantly keep them in the loop as progress is made. Even though they may not get what they want today, when surgeons are made to feel like they are sitting in the decision-making driver’s seat, they will typically still feel satisfied.”

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