Big Trends & Challenges for ASCs: The Next 4 YearsAt the 19th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 26, 2012, author, television commentator and business journalist Suzy Welch moderated a panel discussion on ambulatory surgical centers over the next four years.
The panel featured President and CEO of Physicians Endoscopy Barry Tanner, CFO and Co-founder of Regent Surgical Health W. Michael Karnes, Northwest Michigan Surgery Center CEO Jim Stilley and Senior Partner and Founder of VMG Health Gregory Koonsman. The panel touched on several pressing issues in the ASC industry, including physician employment by hospitals, reimbursement decline, payor partnerships and healthcare reform.
While hospital employment of physicians is increasing in most markets, the panel discussed ways surgery centers are still able to drive physicians into their center. In some cases, when surgery centers joint venture or partner with hospitals, hospitals actually encourage low acuity cases to move into the surgery center to free hospital operating room space for high acuity, more profitable procedures. Mr. Koonsman also highlighted smaller markets where hospitals may be willing to let employed physicians perform cases at the ASC to maintain a positive relationship with those surgeons.
Reimbursement will remain challenging over the next four years, according to the panel members, but there could be opportunities for ASCs to partner with payors by participating in accountable care organizations, bundled payments or other payment methods to drive down healthcare costs in their market. The panel members also discussed the dwindling opportunities for out-of-network payment, which they see continuing to decrease in the future.
To close the panel, Ms. Welch asked each panel member to discuss whether they were optimistic, pessimistic or somewhere in between for the next four years. Despite the mounting challenges for ASCs, the panel members were more optimistic than pessimistic for the future, with Mr. Karnes explaining his "cautious optimism." The future looks bright for ASCs, they said, because:
• ASCs are the lowest cost providers in the market, so ACOs and others taking on risk will direct patients there
• Infection rate at ASCs is lower than at hospitals, positioning ASCs for success after the transition to pay-for-performance
• Better technology means more surgeries moving to the outpatient setting
More Articles on Surgery Centers:
4 Commonly Overlooked ASC Benchmarks & How to Benchmark Correctly
5 Core Concepts to Drive Revenue at Ophthalmology ASCs
8 Points of Survival for Surgery Centers After ACOs
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