Navigating Workforce Challenges: Key Strategies for ASCs

The healthcare domain continues to experience a surge in surgical procedures, and ASCs are at the forefront of providing efficient and accessible outpatient surgical care. However, this rapid increase in surgical volumes presents workforce challenges for ASCs. In this article, we will explore strategies that ASCs can implement to navigate these challenges effectively.

Understanding the Current Landscape

Despite a 56% increase in surgical volumes over the past year, ASC leaders are grappling with recruitment challenges, particularly in securing experienced OR nurses (68% difficulty) and surgical technologists (69% difficulty), according to the 2023 OR Manager Salary/Career Survey. The survey highlights a persistent struggle in staffing ASCs, attributed to factors like growing provider shortages, procedure migration, and heightened demand for surgical services.

Strategic Recruitment

To address this challenge, administrators overseeing ASC hiring must consider key strategies. For effective recruitment in ASCs, administrators should prioritize a holistic approach that aligns the center's values, remuneration, and benefits with industry standards or surpasses them.

Beyond competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits, cultivating a workplace culture that encourages continuous learning through specialized training opportunities and community-building initiatives is pivotal in attracting top-tier talent. By creating an environment that stands out, ASCs can distinguish themselves in a competitive hiring landscape.

Additionally, harnessing the power of existing staff engagement emerges as a strategic pillar. Administrators should actively involve current employees in the recruitment process, recognizing them as valuable contributors who can refer qualified candidates. To achieve this, it's crucial to promptly address employee concerns, fostering an environment where staff feel genuinely valued and heard. This employee-centric approach not only enhances internal dynamics but also transforms the existing workforce into advocates for the ASC, contributing to a more robust recruitment strategy.

Enhancing Staff Retention

To address staff retention, particularly among different generations, compensation packages, benefits, and recognition efforts have proven effective. Gen X and Gen Y prioritize retirement benefits like 401(k) packages, while fostering a sense of connection, appreciation, and recognition through initiatives such as employee awards and social events enhances the overall employee experience.

Moreover, focusing on fostering connection through mentorship programs and creating an environment that sets employees up for success by streamlining tasks and embracing automation plays a crucial role in retaining staff.

Automation, by reducing sometimes tedious tasks and increasing efficiency, contributes to improved job satisfaction and allows employees to focus on the most meaningful aspects of their roles. Examples of automation in healthcare include streamlining patient history collection and utilizing platforms like Symptom Checker.

While larger institutions may have more integrated automation platforms, standalone software options are increasingly available to smaller practices. The key lies in finding comprehensive solutions that address various aspects of the patient care journey seamlessly.

EMRs Boost Healthcare Efficiency

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) offer substantial benefits to ASCs, impacting quality outcomes, patient safety, profitability, and overall efficiency. EMRs provide access to clinical data, supporting ASCs in enhancing care quality through standardized workflows. Furthermore, they enable detailed case analyses, cost optimization, and improved scheduling, leading to enhanced profitability.

Selecting the right EMR for ASCs involves key considerations. Opting for a cloud-based EMR ensures flexibility, while thorough research helps match unique ASC needs with specific features. Seeking references, evaluating support options, ensuring system compatibility, and checking for preloaded information relevance are crucial steps. Inquiring about billing packages, training, and vendor support further streamlines the integration of an EMR tailored to ASC requirements.

Embracing Telemedicine

Integrating telemedicine into ASCs can improve both patient care and operational efficiency. Telemedicine addresses the rising patient demand, providing self-service functions that support the growth of surgical volumes in ASCs.

Particularly advantageous for pre-operative screenings, telemedicine streamlines and expedites the care process. It also significantly improves patient access to health resources by offering virtual access to personal health records and extending reach to patients outside metropolitan areas.

This expanded accessibility ensures a broader patient base for ASCs. Not to mention it brings cost efficiency, as virtual services are more economical than traditional staffing models. The shared savings, especially in monitoring long-term conditions, make it a financially prudent choice for ASCs.

Transformative AI

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in ASCs has been a subject of keen interest and discussion. While there is ongoing excitement about the potential transformative impact of AI on the future of medicine, opinions vary on the speed of adoption and its ultimate use cases.

ASC leaders acknowledge the healthcare industry's cautious approach to adopting new technologies due to strict regulations and tight profit margins. However, optimism exists around the potential for AI to enhance operational efficiency, cut costs, and revolutionize patient care.

The use of AI in decision-making processes, machine learning in billing, conversational AI for patient and physician support, and the individualization of patient care are identified as potential trends shaping the future of ASCs.