The 3 things keeping an orthopedic ASC exec up at night

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Taylor Cera, COO of Orthopaedic Surgery Center in Youngstown, Ohio, joined the Becker's Healthcare Ambulatory Surgery Centers podcasts Feb. 5 to outline his top plans for the center in 2021 and discuss the things he's most concerned about today.

Below is an excerpt from the discussion. The interview is edited lightly for clarity and length.

Click here to access the full episode.

Question: What are three things that keep you up at night?

No.1: staff and physician recruitment. As acquisitions continue to increase, competition for surgeons definitely presents a challenge for us. The trend of hospital employment is not going to go away for physicians. However, over the past four years we have had success in bringing four new orthopedic surgeons into our ASC, and we've also added some service lines in plastic and reconstructive surgery, eye surgery and some women's health services to our center.

I think if we take a step back and look at our five-year plan, our vision, we've had pretty great success in the physician and staff recruitment area. But I think [the field is] changing daily, and [physician recruitment] is going to continue to be a priority for us and a challenge to overcome.

No. 2: payer contracts and insurance company practices. Continued conversation with local contract managers or contract vice presidents in the area is crucial. I think a lot of times [ASC administrators and payers] don't necessarily agree on things, but it's important to have constant communication. Constantly reviewing each other's environment in its own market is extremely important.

We've already seen some new trends and new rules from insurance companies, specifically regarding preauthorizations in orthopedics. It has caused some issues in our flows and our processes, so I think continuously having those conversations and understanding things that are coming down the pipeline that are going to affect our internal processes is extremely important to know.

No. 3: Leaders don't have all the answers. I think it's important for leaders to understand this and surround themselves with a small group of the right people who assist them and help them work through some of these issues. One of the benefits of being a privately owned physician ASC is we are able to make changes quickly and adapt very quickly. During the pandemic, at a micro level, we've had to go even faster.

We've been able to see success through 2020, and hopefully, we can continue seeing that in 2021 and beyond. Not only are we seeing ourselves having to move at an even faster pace, the more challenging part that keeps me up at night is the ambiguity that has entered our operational strategy. Being pretty detailed, and now not having all of the answers, has been a challenge, and even more so, not being able to provide colleagues and team members detailed answers has been bothersome.

We've done well. I think there are areas for improvement and continued conversation, and being able to consistently provide a clear message to staff and physicians is something that will be important and in my top three plans for 2021.

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