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3 Key Takeaways About the Future of ASCs and Orthopedic Surgery

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At the 12th Annual Spine, Orthopedic and Paine Management-Driven ASC Conference in Chicago on June 13, orthopedic surgeon Gary Sherman, MD, and nurse administrator Jennifer Barley — both with Hagerstown (Md.) Surgery Center in — discussed how ready-for-surgery concepts from Flower Orthopedics help ASCs become more efficient and adapt to a changing industry.

Dr. Sherman and Ms. Barley also discussed the shifting healthcare industry and what ASCs will need to do to succeed in the coming years. Here are three takeaways from their presentation about the future of ASCs and orthopedic surgery.

1. ASCs and orthopedic surgeons will face narrower reimbursement rates and subsequent spending reductions.
Although orthopedics will remain profitable, "expect things to get tight" as reimbursement rates get narrower, Dr. Sherman said. ASCs should be looking for ways to save money now. They should know their costs for every procedure and be aware that increasing volume doesn't compensate for lost margins, he said.

Ms. Barley said a ready-for-surgery standardize, single-use bone fixation concept helps make ASCs more cost-effective and efficient. Otherwise, washing, wrapping and sterilizing the instrument tray for surgery at an ASC can cost $85 to $100, when you factor in the staff's time. "That's just a waste," Ms. Barley said.

2. ASCs will need to re-evaluate vendor contracts. Re-evaluating vendor contracts will lead to lower implant supply costs, tying in with the need to rein in spending, Dr. Sherman said. Although he says many surgeons get into a "comfort zone" with implant companies and products and develop long-standing relationships with certain vendors, he said it may be necessary to break that habit. "Unless there's a difference in clinical outcome, implant choice may not make a difference," he said.

3. Fracture care will continue to shift from hospitals to ASCs. Going forward, the shift of fracture care from hospitals to surgery centers will only get stronger, according to Dr. Sherman. He said this makes sense because fracture care isn't urgent, and ASCs can offer superior care.  

He cited 2008 data from the ASC Association Outcomes Monitoring Project showing more than half of ASCs nationally have infection rates of zero. Furthermore, a 2004 Archives of Surgery study found ASC patients were less likely to require unscheduled follow-up treatment at the emergency room or hospital within seven days of surgery. "We have improved outcomes and patient satisfaction," he said.

More Articles on Orthopedic Surgery:
Regional Anesthesia Can Lead to Better Patient Outcomes  
12 Things to Know About Spine & Higher Acuity Cases in ASCs  
What Does the Sunshine Act Mean for Orthopedic and Spine Surgeons? 

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