5 numbers making ASC execs nervous

Independent physician practices and ASCs are having an increasingly difficult time staying independent, especially with changing payer policies and staff shortages in healthcare.

Five numbers reflecting challenges ahead for ASC owners and operators:

1. Physician employment: 70 percent of physicians are employed by hospitals or corporations, including private equity firms, according to a June 29 report from Avalere.

2. Acceleration of physicians joining hospitals: 11,400 physicians left private practice and hospital employment in the second half of last year after the rate of hospital-employed physicians had been flat for 18 months, according to Avalere.

3. Hospitals owning ASCs: The number of hospitals owning or affiliating with more than one ASC jumped 17 percentage points from 2019 to 2020, according to Avanza Healthcare Strategies.

4. Prior authorizations: 83 percent of physician respondents to an American Medical Association survey reported an increase in prior authorizations for medications and medical services in the last five years, which extends the revenue cycle process and makes it harder for ASCs to schedule cases.

5. Nursing shortage: 500,000 registered nurses are expected to retire by the end of the year, according to the American Nursing Association, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for 1.1 million new RNs to avoid a shortage. ASCs can offer nurses more regular hours than hospitals, since surgery centers are only open during the day, but hospitals can offer higher pay and sign-on bonuses to attract top talent.


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