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How ASCs Can Ace Patient Satisfaction

Analysis  |  By Debra Shute  
   December 14, 2017

Patient ratings can help make or break an ambulatory surgery center. An orthopedic surgeon shares his top tips for ensuring satisfied consumers.

Ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) can be an appealing option for patients—and a sound revenue stream for systems and physicians. Patient satisfaction scores can play a key role in an ASC's success, but obtaining high patient ratings can be difficult.

Nicholas Frisch, MD, MBA, is an orthopedic surgeon with Ascension Crittenton Hospital in Rochester, MI, and Bald Mountain Surgery Center in Lake Orion, MI. 

The following transcript has been lightly edited.

HealthLeaders Media: What are some key challenges to achieving patient satisfaction in ASCs in particular, as opposed to hospitals or other ambulatory settings?

Nicholas Frisch, MD: In an ambulatory environment, you don't have all of the resources you would have, say, at a large academic medical center. So you have to be prepared for situations that could arise and require additional instrumentation or equipment. The preparation to have that available is a challenge for everybody, and requires a bit more work on the front end for ASCs.

The other issue is managing the patients' expectations in terms of what they want out of the experience. Patients are drawn to ASCs because they want a more personalized experience compared to going to a big hospital.

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But not every patient is a candidate for outpatient surgery. While 60%–70% of my patient population, for instance, might be candidates from a medical standpoint, you have to take into account the social realities of their lives and circumstances. For some patients, it's wiser to operate in a hospital in case problems arise. If all is well, they may still be able to go home the night of surgery. I call all of my patients the night after surgery to make sure everything is OK.

Finally, I can't emphasize enough the importance of creating the right infrastructure. We try to make sure there's an opportunity for people to come to our clinic if there's an issue before their follow-up appointment, which may be three weeks after surgery.

We had to increase our staffing to do this, but we also reach out to patients at critical intervals, such as one week out or when they start outpatient physical therapy to make sure everything is in order. And we have to train staff to answer questions and concerns and identify which people need to be seen in the clinic.

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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