Using an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) for outpatient surgery is becoming more accepted in the healthcare industry today. These centers offer patients the ease and lower cost of having surgery without going to the hospital.
There is, however, a downside. Many of these centers are run by independently owned organizations, which can result in patient leakage where a patient seeks treatment outside a hospital for some surgeries, causing a profit loss to the hospital.
Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta is one of the hospital systems experiencing changes due to the growth of ASCs. The chief operating officer, a Georgia Tech alumnus and frequent guest speaker at the Scheller College of Business reached out to Professor of the Practice Bill Todd, who has an extensive career in healthcare and business, to see if Todd could introduce the subject in his Healthcare Consulting Practicum. Todd saw it as an excellent opportunity for his students.
Working with Piedmont Hospital, a team of 11 undergraduates, including two pre-meds students from Biology and Neuroscience and one from Chemical Engineering, was tasked with looking more closely at this growing trend and developing a strategy to reduce patient leakage and profits while allowing Piedmont Hospital to offer its own ASC to patients. Their final deliverable was a presentation to the chief operating officer and other C-suite executives on how Piedmont can compete with other ASCs by creating their own surgery center.
“Initially, the task felt daunting. However, we capitalized on our diverse educational backgrounds, professional networks, and individual strengths to attack the problem. We dedicated most of the semester to research. We combed through online resources, conducted stakeholder interviews, and surveyed the Atlanta community,” said Mackenzie Czerner, a third-year undergraduate student.
The students researched the ASC landscape and then predicted how many surgical centers Piedmont should offer, where they should be located, and what surgeries to offer. When they’d completed their research, they recommended that Piedmont create a hybrid model with an office-based lab (OBL) and an ASC. This state-of-the-art surgery center would offer cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, and pain management services. They even found the building where they suggested Piedmont could house their ASC.
“To say I gained a valuable experience from this project would be an understatement. The practicum solidified my decision to pursue a career in consulting and healthcare. It also further strengthened my problem-solving and teamwork skills, particularly in working with individuals from varied backgrounds,” said Czerner.