Archive September 2017 XVIII, No. 9

Financial Management: This ENT Center Sees Strength in Numbers

The Surgery Center of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes a team approach to purging unnecessary costs.

Bill Donahue, Senior Editor

2017 OR Excellence Award: Financial Management
financial responsibilities PAYING DIVIDENDS The center has boosted profitability by requiring patients to meet at least 60% of their financial responsibilities before surgery.

In a market dominated by 2 large health systems, The Surgery Center in Fort Wayne, Ind., has spent the past few years working hard to remain viable — and profitable.

"It's been a culture shift in that we've all had to wrap our minds around the business of health care, not just patient care," says Brandy Miller, MHA, MSN, RN, CNOR, director of the ENT-only facility. "Our No. 1 priority will always be to deliver the best possible care for our patients, but we also have to keep a close eye on the bottom line. Otherwise, we won't be here."

Since Ms. Miller arrived 3 years ago, the nurses and other staff have embraced multiple initiatives that have positively impacted the bottom line.

Adopting flex hours. Nurses used to work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., regardless of the surgery schedule, and any time worked beyond those hours resulted in overtime pay. The ASC has since adopted flex hours, where nurses can expect to start the workday within a "floating" window of time — say, between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. — to accommodate the schedule. The proposed schedule gets posted a week in advance, and final start times for a certain day are distributed to staff members via group text the night before.

Sponsored by CareCredit

Initially, some of the longer-tenured nurses disliked not having a set schedule, so the surgery center had to contend with some turnover. But Ms. Miller says the "flex and float" policy has since become indispensable. Ms. Miller estimates the new policy saved the practice "thousands and thousands of dollars" on staffing resources within the first 18 months of implementation.

The change has spawned other benefits, including the opportunity to cross-train pre- and post-op nurses, which, in turn, has created more flexibility in scheduling. It also compelled nurses to become more involved in other areas of the practice, such as infection control and supply chain management.

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