5 fresh ideas for differentiating your ASC

Jeffrey FlynnHere are five new services that will differentiate your ambulatory surgery center from COO of Gramercy Surgery Center and Gramercy Healthcare Management Jeffrey Flynn.

1. Add lap band. Gramercy is the first surgery center in New York to implement a lap band program. "It's a safe procedure and a relatively small feat," says Mr. Flynn. "Given the issues with gastric bypass and malpractice risk, ASCs that want to reinvent themselves have to look at new procedures and this could be one of them."

Although obese patients are typically considered "high risk," when the procedure can be done outpatient at the hospital it can also be done at the surgery center. Keep patient selection tight and form a good relationship with hospitals in case a transfer is necessary.

2. Offer prostate cancer services. "One of the most exciting things we're doing now is our ambulatory cancer care program," says Mr. Flynn. "It's open access. We started with our prostate cancer program, which patients like because we do treatment and then they can go home and sleep in their own beds."

There aren't any emergencies with these treatments — they are all scheduled ahead of time — and patients appreciate arriving at a healthcare institution that isn't chaotic like hospitals. "Patients like coming to the comforting atmosphere and we're doing these procedures at a lower cost than the hospital," he says.

3. Welcome Medicare patients. ASCs may stay away from Medicare and Medicaid cases because reimbursement is low, but if the surgery center is efficient it can still turn a profit. "The hospital might not be able to make money on some of the outpatient Medicare cases, but an ASC can," says Mr. Flynn. The Medicare patient population could also put ASCs at an advantage if CMS goes more toward pay-for-performance.

4. Perform breast lumpectomies. Gramercy Surgery Center has a breast cancer program. People don't typically associate ASCs with breast cancer survival, but surgeons can perform lumpectomies in the more comfortable outpatient setting. "An ASC is ideal for these patients because the ASC has fewer infections and when cancer patients already have weakened immune systems, the less exposure the better," says Mr. Flynn. "There are fewer people coming in and out of the room, which reduces the risk of something going wrong."

5. Incorporate cardiovascular surgery. Advanced technology has opened the doors for higher acuity cases at ASCs, including cardiovascular surgery. "I had a cardiovascular surgeon tell me in 2005 that only 8 percent of his cases could be done in the outpatient ASC," says Mr. Flynn. "Then in 2012 he told us around 70 percent of his cases could be done in the ASC."

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