By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS


Earnhart & Associates

Austin, TX

It’s the planning time of year for your facility. At our facility, we’re engaged in the following projects for 2018. These individual projects are diverse and they’re across the country. Perhaps you’re planning similar projects.

1. Restructure the governing body.

2. Modify the facility for the total joint program.

3. Recruit new surgeons.

4. Reduce operating expenses.

5. Re-syndicate the facility.

6. Develop new ASC.

7. Add “recovery suite” for 72-hour stays.

8. Add cardiac cath lab into the surgery center.

9. Add orthopedic urgent care center as feeder to ASC.

10. Audit expenses and adjust.

Although each project is different in scope and location, they all feature one common trait: A planning schedule. Someone said that every great idea needs a timeline to be effective. This is so true and relevant to all these endeavors.

At what point did everything seem to get more complicated in life? It seems like getting from point A to point B in any endeavor is almost overwhelming. It is not just the regulations, but the sequence of regulations that compound every task.

For example, over the years, we have developed a checklist for developing a new freestanding surgery center. This list grows each year as more regulations come into play for each state and for Medicare. Not only do we have to abide by a 523-item checklist, but we also have to execute certain tasks before each item on that list as well as what tasks have to follow the completion of the previous task. These procedures have saved us many hours and eliminated wasted efforts. This is one of our planning schedules that we just cannot function without.

In addition to a strong, well-crafted schedule and checklist (certainly a group effort), it’s important to create a decision tree for when a once-viable path to completion becomes entangled in regulations, which requires a change in course (and checklist).

There are many templates for both the checklist and decision trees online that can accommodate just about anything in your facility or life that you are looking to accomplish. Check them out and get started.

When it comes to healthcare in the United States, goals seem to take longer to achieve than one would expect, cost more than they should, and will not please everyone, no matter what you do. That said, if you are not moving forward, you are going to get passed by everyone else that is planning new concepts and programs. We all play in a very competitive sandbox and the competition is getting fierce. You don’t want to get caught off guard. Create a solid plan of action for your 2018 planning based on your individual marketplace.

Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: Web: