by William Prentice

As I write this message, Medicare has just released its 2014 payment proposal for ASCs. If this proposal is adopted, next year, ASCs will actually receive lower reimbursements for the services that they provide to Medicare beneficiaries than they received in 2013. At the same time, Medicare’s quality reporting program for ASCs has hit a snag as the online reporting portal continues to experience problems accepting these reports from ASCs across the country. ASCs that fail to file these reports will receive reduced payments for the services they provide to Medicare beneficiaries in future years.

Meanwhile, the pool of physicians eligible to bring cases to ASCs continues to shrink as a growing number of these physicians are signing employment contracts with their local hospitals, and the Accountable Care Organizations defined for the first time in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act begin to form across the country, often leaving ASCs outside of their networks. Along with these relatively new concerns, ASCs continue to face many of the same pressures that they have faced for many years, including the everincreasing costs of the supplies and services that they need and difficulties securing equitable contracts with the insurers that serve their communities.

The question has been raised, “Can ASCs really continue to operate in the emerging health care marketplace?”

While I can’t predict everything that could happen in the US health care system in the future, for now, my answer to that question is “Yes, absolutely,” but those that do will need to take a hard look at their clinical and business operations and make certain that they are operating as leanly and efficiently as possible.

ASCs that want to succeed will need to dig deep into their business office processes, quality improvement programs and purchasing and inventory management techniques to find ways to reduce their costs and make certain that they are collecting all of the revenue that they are earning. And, they will need to do all of that while continuing to drive improvement in the already outstanding customer service and quality of care they provide. ASCs that want to succeed will also need to consider new ways of serving their patients and physicians and protecting their competitive advantage in the marketplace.

This fall, ASCA is offering a program designed to help ASCs do exactly that: ASCA’s 2013 Fall Seminars. This program, in Las Vegas October 9–12, will give ASC professionals a unique opportunity to focus intensely on key areas of ASC management and explore techniques that they can put to work immediately to improve the patient care that their ASC provides and protect and grow their ASC’s bottom line. Health care professionals who are not currently affiliated with an ASC but have an interest in moving into the ASC setting will not find a better venue for acquiring the information and making the connections they need.

Participants in ASCA’s 2013 Fall Seminars can register for up to three of five separate events. They sign up only for those opportunities that best meet their needs.

On Wednesday, October 9, attendees can register for ASCA’s Certified Administrator Surgery Center (CASC) review course or a full-day seminar on quality management in ASCs. The CASC review course is a comprehensive review of the key areas of ASC administration, including regulatory and legal issues, finance, delivery of patient care, quality management and human resources. It is an outstanding introduction to ASC management for those new to the ASC setting, a comprehensive review for those who want to ensure that their skills are current and, of course, an excellent preparation for the CASC exam.

The quality management seminar will provide everything that an ASC professional needs to know to implement a meaningful and sustainable quality assessment and performance improvement (QAPI) program. Specific topics that will be covered include developing a culture of accountability, conducting a root cause analysis on adverse events and implementing a meaningful peer review program.

On Thursday and Friday, October 10–11, attendees can register for a two-day seminar on ASC finance and accounting. This course is an excellent program for business office managers and administrators who want to study the basics, like debits, credits and financial ratios, as well as more advanced material, including budgeting, strategic planning and forecasting.

Finally, on Saturday, October 12, participants can either take the CASC exam (advance registration for this test is required by September 14; learn more at www.aboutcasc.org) or register for a full-day seminar on purchasing and inventory management. This seminar will examine best practices in purchasing, get ASC purchasing agents up to speed on their responsibilities and deliver new ideas and tactics that ASCs can use to save money and time.

Whether you are new to the ASC setting, working to ensure the viability of your ASC or looking to take your ASC to the next level, ASCA’s 2013 Fall Seminars can help.

For more information and to register today please visit www.ascassociation.org/2013FallSeminars.

William Prentice is the Chief Executive Officer of the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.