Archive May 2014 XV, No. 5

Secrets of the Nation's Busiest Cataract Surgery Center

A behind-the-scenes look at how the River Drive Surgery and Laser Center conducts business.

Nancy Lord, RN, BSN


intraocular lens MAKE LIFE CONVENIENT FOR DOCTORS The River Drive Surgery and Laser Center accepts every insurance plan and stocks every intraocular lens surgeons desire.

If we're not the busiest cataract surgery center in the country, then we're right up there in the top 5. The 42 ophthalmologists who have privileges at our center performed about 13,500 eye surgeries last year in our 5 ORs. We probably do many of the same things that you do to run a lean and mean center, like letting our patients keep their clothes on during surgery, and rewarding our busier and faster surgeons with double-room block scheduling. But we also do a few things here at River Drive Surgery and Laser Center to boost efficiency and drive volume that perhaps you haven't considered yet. Let me share some of the secrets to our success with you.

1. Huddle at the start of each day. Hadley Phillips, MD, our center's majority shareholder, is an outstanding surgeon and an astute businessman. Dr. Phillips and I meet for 10 minutes each morning in my office to review and plot the day ahead. We carefully scrutinize block time scheduling and the day's staffing — we want to be fully covered, but we don't want to pay overtime to idling staff. We anticipate doctors' needs, and make sure we have all the right equipment and implants in place. If we have a fast surgeon on the schedule, we'll compress the schedule in order to get him 2 rooms — or even 3, if he's extremely fast. If we have a slower surgeon doing a few glaucoma procedures, we'll be sure to schedule that doctor in 1 room.

2. Make your facility irresistible to surgeons. You can never have too many docs bringing cases to your facility; 27 of our 42 surgeons own a piece of the center. So the next question is: Is your facility a desirable place for surgeons to bring their patients? Give your docs the best service, including:

  • State-of-the-art technology. Invest in the best instruments and equipment with the most advanced technology. We lease 2 different femtosecond lasers. Many surgeons come to us just to have access to our lasers and to offer their patients laser cataract surgery. We do 150 to 200 femto cases a month.
  • Expert staff. Use only ophthalmology-trained anesthesiologists and expert nurses.
  • Compassion. Treat patients like they're family.
  • Never say no. We let docs implant whichever IOLs they want. Stocking so many brands of intraocular lenses makes for an inventory nightmare, but we want our docs to use whichever lenses they want. We're contracted with virtually every insurance carrier in our area, so surgeons never have to worry about us not accepting their patients' health insurance plans.
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