50 years of ASCs: 5 things to know

This year, the ASC industry celebrates its 50th anniversary. According to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, the first ASC was established in 1970 by Wallace Reed, MD, and John Ford, MD, in Phoenix.

Much has changed for the industry in the last five decades. Here are a few recent trends:

1. Today, there are about 5,800 ASCs across the country. According to the ASCA, the states with the most Medicare-certified ASCs include California (794), Florida (426) and Texas (391).

2. The top specialties offered in ASCs include orthopedics, plastic surgery, podiatry and pain management, according to data from CMS cited by the ASCA.

3. Consolidation, regulatory changes, the rise of patient consumerism and new technologies are some of the key trends ASC leaders say are on their minds. Specifically, joint ventures between hospitals, health systems and ASCs are increasing as care shifts to the outpatient setting. Given that ASCs can often provide the same quality of care as a hospital outpatient department at a lower price, patients often report higher satisfaction in ASCs than at hospitals.

More procedures from a variety of specialties, including cardiology and spine, may migrate to the outpatient setting as anesthesia and pain control improves.

4. Over the last few years, there has been increased consolidation for companies that manage or develop ASCs. Notable deals:

- Tenet Healthcare bought out some of the the partial owners of ASC chain United Surgical Partners International in 2015 for $425 million, assuming full ownership of USPI over the course of five years.

- Envision Healthcare merged with ASC developer AmSurg in 2016

- Optum bought Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion in 2017.

5. More private equity companies are investing in ASCs. Private equity firm KKR invested in ASC owner and operator Covenant Surgical Partners in 2017. Private equity firms also have been increasingly investing in gastroenterology, orthopedic and ophthalmology-focused practices.

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