Hospital-ASC Joint Ventures: What Does the Future Look Like?
Dr. Lambert kicked off the conversation by discussing some of the reasons physician owners of an ASC may want to partner with a hospital. The largest of the reasons is often a bump in reimbursement. Other benefits may include access to the health system's insurance product and access to additional capital.
Hospitals, for their part, see investment in an ASC as a way to partner with independent physicians and reduce competition for outpatient surgeries. However, as hospitals employ more physicians, their interest in ASC joint-venture investment could change.
Ms. Bass said that while employed physicians are still interested in joint venture opportunities, she cautioned that hospitals with employed physicians may have an incentive not to joint venture — hospitals can keep all the profits if they wholly own centers.
Mr. O'Sullivan agreed that increasing employment could impact surgery center referrals, but he doesn't see this trend hurting volumes significantly. "There is some concern that surgery centers will lose that volume, but for me, that's not really valid. Physicians want and will seek out the most efficient places to work."
Next, the conversation turned to how accountable care organizations and other alternative payment models might impact outpatient joint ventures. Mr. Becker noted that while hospital-led ACOs would want to drive surgeries to the lowest-cost facility (i.e., an ASC), they are also incentivized to keep hospital ORs strong first.
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