Surgem: Dr. John H. Hajjar, CEO

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Since 1992, the principals of Surgem have been successfully managing ambulatory surgery centers. The company itself was formed in 2005 as a management entity for surgery centers in the states of New Jersey, New York and Florida.

Surgem currently manages 13 surgery centers, some still in the construction and opening stages, with plans to continue expansion throughout the state of New Jersey in the foreseeable future. The organization’s primary shareholder and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. John H. Hajjar, is a practicing urologist who modeled Surgem centers after his own successful ambulatory surgical practice. He continues to see patients at two of Surgem’s centers, but the model has evolved to multi-specialty sites rather than just facilities that serve urology patients.

The role of Ambulatory Centers in Today’s Care Environment

Hajjar says that ambulatory surgery centers fit right into healthcare reform as it is being defined today. “Overall, surgery centers have been shown to reduce costs and deliver quality care at a very high satisfaction rate. Our average satisfaction rate from patient questionnaires is at 99%,” he says.

Since surgery centers earn approximately 56% of the typical hospital outpatient rate, the savings are an obvious bonus, as well. The trend in medicine is toward ambulatory care, and Hajjar believes his surgery centers are the wave of the future.

“Evidence number one is quality,” he explains. “Number two is the technology we have available in an ambulatory setting. For example, we have now the only center on the east coast that performs ambulatory hip replacement and ambulatory knee replacement. We also have a center that is the only surgical center in the country that handles prostrate cancer surgery on an ambulatory basis.”

Hajjar also points to the high skill level of the surgeons involved. “These physicians are the leaders in their field. They achieve superior outcomes in a patient-centric environment.”

“The advantage clearly lies with our centers. Highly trained professionals working together and using their skills in high volume, directly leads to quality outcomes, lower costs and much lower rate of complications,” Hajjar says.

Market and Profitability

Surgem’s model is to build each surgical center with three operating rooms and approximately 10,000 square feet of space. The plans for each center begin with a feasibility study. They want to know in advance, how many doctors would be willing to commit to practicing at the center. “Once we get 10 to 12 physicians who are interested in joining the center, we begin applying to the state and finish with a state-of –the-art facility,” says Hajjar.

In order to join, a physician has to be willing to make a financial commitment. Each becomes an owner in the surgical center. Most centers have 20 to 30 physicians involved.

The top agenda, of course, is to make each surgery center as profitable as possible. It takes about 12-14 months for a startup surgery center to make it into the black. Surgem also focuses on regulatory compliance to ensure that the centers are held to the highest standard of excellence. Although he can’t predict the future, Hajjar knows that the potential for lower reimbursement exists. In response to the unpredictability of the future, the immediate focus is on streamlining staff and procedures, keeping overhead costs low, and working with vendors to receive every discount possible.  “We understand what is necessary at every step so the result is the same with each center we build,” Hajjar says.

Surgem’s Service to Healthcare and Physicians

“We are a management company that is founded and led by the physician entrepreneur who values quality care. We are leaders in the industry and we can deliver the best quality and cost effective care. That’s what Surgem represents in the market – to both patients and providers,” says Hajjar.

-by T.M. Simmons

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