Managing change requires creativity and networking

(Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series on the future of same-day surgery. In last month's issue, we helped prepare you for future challenges, including reimbursement, staffing, and technology. In this month's issue, we offer you tips on managing change.)

Once you’ve accepted the inevitable fact that change is a constant in same-day surgery, you are ready to move on to the challenge of preparing for and managing change, says Kay Ball, RN, MSA, CNOR, perioperative consultant for K&D Medical, a surgical consulting and educational firm in Lewis Center, OH. Education is important for every same-day surgery manager, says Ball. "Finding a mentor, reading books, attending classes, and networking with peers in other settings are all important ways to stay up to date on what is happening in the field," she says.

Staying up to date means knowing about health care in general, as well as same-day surgery specifically, Ball points out. "Look at your program’s place within the whole health care industry and be able to identify trends in other parts of health care that might affect same-day surgery," she says. For example, she asks, with the increased emphasis on preventative care, does that mean fewer herniated discs to repair and more breast lesions to dissect? If you know what is happening throughout health care, you won’t be caught unaware when changes happen within same-day surgery, she adds.

Same-day surgery managers do need to keep their eyes and ears open, agrees Beth Derby, RN, MBA, executive vice president, Health Resources International, a West Hartford, CT-based management and consulting firm for ambulatory surgery centers. "While many same-day surgery centers may be specialty organizations, we can’t be insulated from what is happening in our community as well as other areas," she says. "A manager needs to be inquisitive and gather information in order to make good decisions."

Creativity will be another component of a successful same-day surgery program, says Ball. "When a problem is identified, everyone on the same-day surgery staff has to find a solution," she says. "Don’t be afraid to ask what if’ when looking for solutions." Managers should be willing to come up with ideas that haven’t been tried before because you will be dealing with challenges that haven’t been dealt with before, Ball says.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of managing change will be doing so without compromising the personal service and pleasant atmosphere that have differentiated same-day surgery programs from other health care services, says Derby. "Our patients, physicians, and payers expect personal attention, cost-efficient service, and pleasant environments," she says. "These are factors that have made same-day surgery programs successful, and we can’t lose sight of them."