4 opportunities for post-pandemic ASC growth

While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the ASC industry, some have found it has also created opportunities for growth. 

Five ASC leaders spoke to Becker's ASC Review on how their facilities are accommodating and encouraging growth. 

1. Surgery migration

Paying attention to new surgeries that are moving to ASCs is a way to harness growth. This requires keeping a close eye on CMS' outpatient list and also paying attention to what other facilities are doing. 

Surgeon Paul MacKoul, MD, founder of Rockville, Md.-based Center for Innovative GYN Care, is looking to gynecological surgeries to increase caseload, for example.

He told Becker's ASC Review that gynecological surgeries are one of the "most important and upcoming surgeries going into surgery centers."

"The same can be said for other multispecialty centers that are thinking about moving forward in the next five years with a new opportunity — which would be GYN. The Medicare and Medicare services have really allowed higher reimbursements for a lot of these cases in surgery centers, and that can be quite lucrative for the surgery center," Dr. MacKoul said. "It's almost to the new frontier for surgeries in the ASC setting. It has to be considered by surgery centers interested in that approach."

Here's a list of procedures moving to ASCs, according to six administrators. 

2. Thinking geographically

Understanding the growth landscape of a community is key to maximizing growth.

Raleigh, N.C., is a community where population has increased 18.7 percent since 2010. Brian Bizub, CEO of Raleigh Orthopaedic, a privately owned, midsize physician group with two ASCs, is looking outward as Raleigh continues to grow. 

"I think everyone that has an ASC is trying to figure out how to kind of keep your ASC branded and marketed as a safe environment and a better patient experience," Mr. Bizub said. 

3. Technology

Looking to technology could be a way to streamline efficiency and encourage center growth. 

Davin Lundquist, MD, is chief medical information officer of ambulatory services in the Ventura (Calif.) market at Dignity Health and CommonSpirit. He told Becker's ASC Review that he's focusing on technology to improve and grow his center.

He sees opportunity for improvement in imaging technology, better hardware and artificial intelligence.

"We continue to see technology progress in all areas. Digital, remote and virtual technologies have been front and center this year," he said. "Hopefully, as we get all this remote technology that we have, we'll be able to integrate all of that evolving technology better into the point of care."

4. Adding physicians and specialties

Stefan Kreuzer, MD, the owner and founder of Inov8 Orthopedics in Houston, said adding physicians and specialties is how his ASC will approach growth.

He is looking at the surrounding community and what gaps he sees to decide where to focus his physician additions. 

"We want to add physicians. We want to add specialties. Right now we have a strong focus on sports and total joints — so we want to add spine and we want to add pain management," Dr. Kreuzer said. "We have an extremely successful physical therapy program, and we want to expand in that area and add value to the community in Houston."

Anne Hargrave-Thomas, CEO of Oak Leaf Surgical Hospital in Eau Claire, Wis., and senior vice president of operations at Surgery Partners, said she is looking at adding physicians and capacity at her hospital to grow. 

"I think our biggest priority is growth and how we achieve that growth. And while looking at growth, how do we maintain the high quality patient care that we're used to providing to all of our patients?" she said. "We are busy, and that's great news. We're starting to get patients back into the hospital for surgeries, so we'll probably attack it from those two fronts."

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