Improve Operations Six ways for ASCs to optimize business office performance BY ROBERT KURTZ


o maintain success, ASCs need to optimize their financial perfor-

mance, says Jennifer Butterfield, RN, administrator at Lakes Surgery Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan. “This is just as important as doing

clinical work,” she says. “If your busi- ness office is not functioning well, you will not collect the money needed to remain open and continue providing great care.”

Optimization of the business office is not achievable in one step, Butter- field adds. “It is an accumulation of strategies that ultimately help achieve multiple objectives.”


Use technology to your advan- tage. “A good practice manage- ment system will allow you to review reports on your ASC’s financial perfor- mance and identify areas for improve- ment,” she says. “A good system can also integrate other business office functions, such as insurance veri- fication. We no longer need some- one assigned solely to insurance ver- ification because we use this software enhancement. Make sure your system has the functions and capabilities you need to be efficient, and then maxi- mize its use.”


Focus on the front end. “By effec- tively capturing information from

your physicians’ practices—such as a patient’s name and insurance details, the diagnosis code and planned proce- dure—it will be easier to verify insur- ance and communicate with patients about their financial responsibility,” says D. Paul Davis, chief executive officer and president of Amblitel, a provider of ASC accounting and back- office services based in Louisville, Colorado. “Good front-end processes


Good front-end processes help ensure claims are processed correctly and adjudicated quickly.”

—D. Paul Davis, Amblitel

help ensure claims are processed cor- rectly and adjudicated quickly. It takes less work to get everything right on the front end than to try to correct things on the back end.”


Be consistent on the back end. “Policies and procedures need to be put in place, and staff should be trained to always follow them,” Davis says. “For example, given the contin- ued increase in patient deductibles and co-insurance, just sending patient state- ments is not enough anymore. Patient statements need to be sent out on a pre- determined basis, and patients must be held to payment plans or ASCs can out- source self-pay management. In addi- tion, payer denials should be researched and acted upon within an established period of time. Consistency with back-

end processes will reduce mistakes and improve collections.”

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Track key metrics. “You should determine what metrics your ASC

needs to track to meet its objectives, and then hold staff accountable for their performance related to those met- rics,” Butterfield says. “You have to measure what everyone is doing on a regular basis so you can identify and fix problems.”

Establish straight lines of com- munication. When a problem

develops, business office staff should know exactly who to go to, Butterfield says, “from the employee to a leader who can make a change. If my biller receives a claim rejection, she knows to come to me immediately. Such straight line communication allows us to address issues quickly.”


Determine priorities. Davis says ASCs should decide whether they

view their revenue cycle as a “strate- gic function.” “When it is, you treat it as just as high of a priority as the clinical side,” he says. “Whereas, on the clinical side you might buy the newest arthroscopy equipment to attract physicians and provide the best care possible, on the business office side, you will invest in the best technology, hire the best peo- ple and put in the effort to make every- thing work like a clock. “If the revenue cycle is not a stra-

tegic initiative, it may be better to out- source your business office functions, allowing you to focus on operational and clinical efficiency,” he adds.

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