With low infection rates and fast turnarounds, ASCs are increasingly viewed as ideal sites of outpatient services.
Ten ASC leaders spoke with Becker's ASC Review on positive signs they see for the industry.
Question: What signs point to a bright future for ASCs?
Editor's note: Responses were edited lightly for length and clarity.
Jennifer Cabrera. Director of operations at Snibbe Orthopedics (Los Angeles): Particularly through the pandemic, ASCs have proven that they can provide safe and affordable access to care across a variety of specialties. Both patients and providers are more willing and accepting of moving their surgeries to the ASC setting. ASCs in our area are increasing specialties provided, adopting new technologies and working with payers on bundled payment structures — all pointing to a bright future for ASCs.
Chris Blackburn, BSN. Administrator of South Kansas City SurgiCenter (Overland Park): The future is bright for ASC with commercial payers seeing the cost savings for themselves and their customers by moving cases to the ASC setting.
Laura Galeazzi. Administrator of Antelope Valley Surgical Institute (Lancaster, Calif.): The simple fact that ASCs can provide safe, affordable and efficient surgery and still maintain the lowest infection rate as compared to a hospital setting
Amy Noble. Practice administrator of the Center for Pain Control (Wyomissing, Pa.): There is tremendous opportunity for ASCs as we are still experiencing a shift in procedures moving from hospital to ambulatory surgery settings.
Dianna Reed. Administrator of Sani Eye Surgery Center (Templeton, Calif.): With the continued rising cost of patient care in the hospital setting, ASCs have become many insurance companies' preference for outpatient surgery. In the ASC setting, we are able to greatly reduce the time spent at the ASC, which in turn reduces the following:
- Patient unhappiness with care because of lengthy wait times for surgery and postoperative waiting for discharge by doctor is drastically reduced. For cataract surgery, our patient is typically here for less than an hour. For a cornea transplant, 90 minutes. Hospital surgery center wait times are two to three times greater in our area.
- Patient admission to hospital due to increases in blood pressure, blood sugar, anxiety, postoperative pain and much more
- Patient postoperative infections, greater exposure to other patients
- Costs to patient and insurance companies
Cherise Brown. Administrator of Andover (Kansas) Ambulatory Surgery Center: In my experience, physicians prefer an ASC setting over the hospital when possible. They have more autonomy in an ASC vs. hospital due to strict regulations in a hospital. The infection rate in an ASC is minimal, and turnaround times are generally much quicker than in a hospital.
David Horace. Administrator and owner of Bel-Clair Surgical Center (Belleville, Ill.): Revised process to add procedures to ASC list of approved procedures should improve access and decrease cost of care.
Andres Duran. Administrator of Brownsville (Texas) Surgery Center: Some of the signs include:
- Faster turnaround times
- Insurance companies favor ASCs
- Outpatient procedures Physician investment
- Lower costs
Barbara Clancy-Sweeney. Administrator of gastroenterology & hepatology at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia): Several factors, but most importantly — insurance coverage. The insurance companies are no longer paying for a screening colonoscopy in the hospital. Healthy patients wanting to have a colonoscopy at their local hospital will have high out-of-pocket costs. The ASCs are a nice, low-cost option since they usually only do healthy patients and do not have the regulatory requirements and overhead of a hospital unit. Secondly, after using an ASC patients and physicians are more comfortable with the ASC setting as it is usually a more efficient operation because they don’t have the variables of sick patients.
Cindy Vasquez, RN. Administrator of Central California Endoscopy Center (Fresno): There are a couple of points that quickly come to mind when I think of ASC success; the first is staff satisfaction. When I observe my team's interactions and the unified culture that they have built, I know our center has a very bright future. This month we will be celebrating 20 years of patient care for the center, and the last two years have proven that a unified staff with a common goal can overcome any set of hurdles. The second is an engaged team of physicians. Our center has 18 physicians who take pride in calling this ASC their home. They are invested in the success of the center as much as any of the administrative team. Being engaged in meetings and offering suggestions to improve processes make for ASC success.