The rise of 'single-subspecialty ASCs' 

Some ASC markets are seeing the rise of super-specialized ASCs — ASCs that offer a single subspecialty that allows physicians and staff to master their surgery line. 

Charles DeCook, MD, orthopedic surgeon at the Cumming, Ga.-based Advanced Center for Joint Surgery, joined Becker's to discuss how ASC consolidation is shifting from multispecialty and single-specialty ASCs to "single-subspeciality ASCs."

Being a multispecialty ASC was necessary when the market was growing — ASCs needed to perform multiple types of procedures to attract patients and meet margins. Now, Dr. DeCook told Becker's, ASCs are financially stable enough to focus on specialization. 

"These 'super-specialized' ASCs will offer better trained staff and support to the surgeon as well as more focused care, outcomes and satisfaction to the patient," he said. "ASC specialization mirrors the specialization that has already occurred with surgeons."

Facility specialization has lagged behind surgical specialization, he said. As the number of surgeons grew, they were able to focus on a particular specialty. Now, it's the facilities' turn to develop in this fashion.  

"Symbiosis between specialized surgeons and specialized ASCs is a winning formula for overall healthcare value, and patient outcomes and will be the backbone of future ASC consolidation," he said. "This symbiosis will produce a product that is simpler, better and cheaper than facilities that offer a broader range of services and procedures."

When surgeons and staff are aligned on a subspecialty, improvement will come naturally, he said, and costs will lower. 

"Disruption in healthcare, just like all other industries, will occur from 'below,'" he said.  "Institutions that can offer the same service as the status quo but can do it simpler, better and for less money will ultimately win."

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