Well, it looks like the summer’s back has been broken. Cooler temperatures (less flooding hopefully), kids back in school, and renewed energy. So let’s get to the task of fixing a few issues at the office.

Surgeons taking out some equity in their investments in ASCs. It is a common practice that surgeons want to sell off some of their interest in their surgery center investment. Fall seems to be the high season for that to occur. It is a good thing as we need new blood in our facilities to bring improvement ideas, different procedures, and generally plot a new course for the facility.

Not all like change. It can be intimidating and create a false sense of insecurity. It should be just the opposite in our line of work. Medicare (CMS) continues to push more and more complex and higher paying procedures into surgery centers, forcing many of us to respond with updated equipment, physical renovations, new staff training, and higher revenue potential. Many facilities are now embracing complex spine procedures, total joint replacement, and cardiac cases into our rapidly expanding business model of freestanding facilities.

Many hospitals, conversely, are tightening their belts and learning how to deal with the exodus of some of their prized money making jewels. Is it any wonder that hospitals continue to develop their own ASCs, buy interest into existing, or buy out completely outpatient surgery centers? And, is it any wonder that surgeons wanting to take some equity out of their investment are turning to these perceived deep pocket hospitals as buyer?

Surgeon recruitment is becoming an industry of its own. I know of many facilities that are courting these new breed of surgeons, hitherto fore who had no interest in being a partner in a surgery center; but now see others taking their once, hospital only procedures, away from them and doing them in an invested surgery center. If you are not actively hunting these new specialists down and welcoming their procedures into your nest, someone else will.

ASCs are paying handsomely to people to bring these cases to them. Some, typically nurses or past employees of a surgery center or hospital, charge up $10,000 for recruitment of a surgeon, plus, a percentage of their contribution for up to a year after they bring their cases to the facility! You think, “I would never pay someone to bring surgeons to my facility?” Well, others will to theirs.

It is happening all across the country and it is time to discuss internally.

Check out your facility to find solutions – can you accommodate more cases? Are your older surgeons slowing down and taking longer and more frequent time off? Staff getting a little bored with the same procedures all the time? Is the luster peeling off your shine? Fall is a good time to re-focus, and re-energize yourself and your center!

The leaves will be changing soon and you should too.

Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at their mailing address at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759.