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How a Business Manager Can Provide a Power-up for Surgical Services

May 11, 2022


How a Business Manager Can Provide a Power-up for Surgical Services

According to the 2020 OR Manager Career and Salary Survey, 36% of surgical services departments employ a business manager. That number has fluctuated since the 2010 survey: from 34% in 2010, 29% in 2015, and 43% in 2019.  

It’s clear that Directors of Surgical Services have authority over the clinical side of the OR, but having business insight gives them a leg up. However, the existence of business manager positions means that this is a full-time job. Since surgical services are responsible for 60% of a hospital’s revenue, why isn’t this position more common? 

Ruth Shuttleworth-Diaz, Director of Nursing Finance, Einstein Healthcare Network

“Clinical directors and managers have the most complex roles ever because the entire weight of everything is on their shoulders alone—particularly a director, who has responsibility for a huge staff. When you add in relationships with surgeons, hospital leadership, and patient care, it adds to the plate. And so you do what is most comfortable, and most of their focus may be on the clinical side. They may be interested in the financial side, but it may not be their priority.  

I worked as the Perioperative Business Manager for Abington Hospital many years ago, a position that they built from scratch. I started as an ICU nurse, but I still have that clinical background. When you understand all the motivations of providers, surgeons, staff, nurses, clinical leadership, and hospital leadership, it’s just a matter of navigating those relationships. I am a strategic thinker, so I’m constantly thinking about what we’re going to do next and how to make it happen. Who do I need to have conversations with? You have to be objective and neutral because you will inevitably step on toes. 

Is this position a luxury? Billers, schedulers, and eventually IT supports were not considered crucial positions when I first started. But they are truly the heart and blood driving all of your business operations. In my role at Abington, we had to flip the dynamic and convince people that these were high-value positions.” 

Chris Hunt, Assistant VP of Perioperative Services, MultiCare Health System

“This is a skill set that we desperately need. If you want to dial in your OR, have a strong business manager who can dig into the system, find all the disparate data, and distill it into actionable information. Doing that is not as easy as it sounds. There are hundreds of thousands of lines of data. Getting those one or two bullet points is very useful in making us more efficient. 

For those of us that are primarily clinical, we don’t always have the best training in accessing different types of data systems. Having someone who can focus on that task, ask the right business questions, and get answers is a plus. As they continually uncover cost-saving opportunities, they will make back their salary severalfold.”