Enhance Your Team’s Productivity Effective communication is key BY ROBERT KURTZ


f you want your ASC to provide a better experience for its patients

and physicians, focus on ways to get the most out of your staff, says Anne Hargrave-Thomas, chief executive offi- cer of OakLeaf Surgical Hospital in Altoona, Wisconsin, and vice president of operations for Surgery Partners, a nationwide operator of surgical facili- ties based in Nashville, Tennessee. “In a productive culture, staff enjoy coming to work, and it shows in their attitude,” she says. “They go above and beyond in their work and are less likely to leave their position.” The indi- vidual or teams who support a produc- tive culture are more effective in their ability to provide optimum care to their patients and support for physi- cians and each other, she says. “This tends to translate to higher patient and employee satisfaction scores.” Running a high-quality, cost-effec-

tive ASC requires an efficient team, says Cheryl Cunningham, RN, CASC, administrator of Findlay Surgery Cen- ter in Findlay, Ohio. “ASC leaders need to carve out time to make sure that they understand how their team is performing and work to fine-tune their productivity. That is essential for the delivery of safe care and can hit a facil- ity’s bottom line in many ways.” Cunningham monitors her staff’s

productivity. “I make rounds every few hours so I can observe my team and identify areas going well and those in need of improvement. We have insti- tuted a weekly huddle where we dis- cuss these observations.” Team mem- bers also have the opportunity to discuss what they feel is and is not working well at these meetings. One of the challenges Cunningham

says she faces in trying to get everyone on her team on the same page is ensur- ing staff receive the same messaging.

ASC leaders need to carve out time to make sure that they understand how their team is performing and work to fine-tune their productivity.”

— Cheryl Cunningham, RN, CASC Findlay Surgery Center

Full-time staff work 36 hours a week, broken down into four nine-hour shifts, with everyone taking a weekday off. “To help provide consistent com- munications, we hung up a whiteboard in the post-operative area, which staff see when they arrive,” she says. “We use this whiteboard to provide infor- mation on anything new or changing that staff need to know to be effective in their team environment.”

26 ASC FOCUS AUGUST 2018| Hargrave-Thomas says she is a

believer in the value of “stay inter- views”—one-on-one interviews between a manager and employees about why employees are remaining with the ASC and what might cause them to leave. “For many, the exit interview is a chance to unload on everything an employee may have disliked that was not addressed,” she says. “If you wait until an exit interview to learn this information, it is too late to change the culture and a lost opportu- nity for improvement.” By using stay interviews, her team works on issues before they become larger problems. “We complete a few stay interviews monthly and provide feedback to the managers so positive changes can be made.”

Step up your efforts to improve team

productivity if you spot warning signs of decline, Hargrave-Thomas says. “Some of these include staff no lon- ger choosing to be helpful or becom- ing difficult to work with, an increase in staff complaints and an increase in attendance issues. The most impor- tant sign is a negative response from patients. Watch for increases in patient complaints or decreases in patient sat- isfaction scores.”

Cunningham says her ASC’s orga- nization-wide commitment to team- work has resulted in greater direct communication between staff when issues arise. “Our high-functioning team members have taken it upon themselves to assist others on the staff when performance is lacking. It took some time to get to this point, but through compassion, one-on-one con- versations and acknowledgement of the critical role each individual plays, everyone is on the same page about the need for a focus on the team to help ensure our success.”

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