Use external and internal parameters BY ROBERT KURTZ Benchmark Beyond Requirements


o say some ASCs do not enjoy the benchmarking process may be an understatement, says Carol Hiatt, RN, CASC, owner of Surgery Center Con- sulting Services in Ocala, Florida. “They look forward to it about as much as someone looks forward to getting the flu because they do not recognize the value benchmark- ing can add,” she says. “If you just look at it as a Medicare or accredita- tion requirement, you will probably only do the minimum. Then you will likely never learn what you could from benchmarking that could really help you as you manage your ASC.” For ASCs interested in bringing about improvements in their opera- tions, benchmarking allows them to make decisions with confidence by using empirical data instead of guesswork, says Stephen Blake, chief executive officer and adminis- trator of Central Park Surgery Cen- ter in Arlington, Texas. “Using this

data, an ASC can better understand its strengths, weaknesses, opportuni- ties and threats, and ultimately gain a clearer picture and understanding of its performance.”

Looking Outside The good news for ASCs looking to grow their benchmarking program to address issues beyond the minimum requirements is that there is a vast number of areas they can benchmark, Hiatt says. This can feel daunting, which is why she advises starting with a straightforward problem. “If it is a simple problem you can measure, you can find external benchmarks.” One common challenge she says

many ASCs face is high costs per case. “If you have a problem with your costs per case and do not know where to begin to tackle it, first take the time to learn your own numbers. Then find a source outside of your ASC that can provide you with case


costs of other ASCs similar to yours so you can use those measures to give you a comparison.” One of the easiest ways Blake says ASCs can benchmark against other centers is to sign up for ASCA Bench- marking ( asca/resourcecenter/benchmarking/ ascabenchmarking). “This program allows you to focus on your ASC’s per- formance as compared to other ASCs in areas such as clinical outcomes, staff- ing and billing. In addition to meeting our basic benchmarking requirements, the data from ASCA Benchmarking allows us to have a clear understanding of how leading performers are doing and to quantitatively confirm how we are performing.” Hiatt says ASCs should choose their data wisely. “You can find a lot of good information through inter- net searches. Make sure the data you select to benchmark against comes from a valid, reliable source.”

Looking Within

External benchmarking is not the only way for an ASC to use bench- marking to improve performance. Anna Risdorfer, RN, nurse admin- istrator for Glen Echo Surgery Cen- ter in Chevy Chase, Maryland, also relies on internal benchmarking. After the ASC opened in 2016, she sat down with her staff to discuss how they wanted to move forward with benchmarking. “They decided that examining our patient satisfaction would be impor- tant since we were a new center and wanted to learn what our patients thought about their experience with us, whether that be negative or pos- itive,” Risdorfer says. “The staff thought this would be worthwhile as we expected to encounter some of the hurdles any new facility—with new staff and surgeons—is likely to face in its first year. So, we con- ducted patient satisfaction surveys.”

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