Over the last several years, ASCs have seen an increase in orthopedic procedures, as more total joint replacements, arthroscopies and even minimally invasive spinal procedures have migrated to the outpatient setting.
Michael Boblitz, CEO and chief strategy officer of Tallahassee (Fla.) Orthopedic Clinic, recently connected with Becker's to discuss the bright future of orthopedics in the ASC setting.
Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Michael Boblitz: Employers are beyond frustrated with the rapidly rising cost of providing healthcare benefits. As a result, payers are working quickly in response. One example being to implement payer policy changes that require elective outpatient orthopedic surgery to be performed in a lower-cost ASC setting, thereby reducing cost per episode by 30 to 40 percent.
At the same time, some employers continue to explore direct-to-provider agreements for high cost services, such as joint replacements or spine surgery, within the provider's ASC. These new arrangements include funding the beneficiary's travel costs. New third-party companies are surfacing quickly to help facilitate and link groups of employers with selected high-quality orthopedic practices.
This all creates a significant opportunity for orthopedic practices with a comprehensive portfolio of surgical centers and ancillary services. The only challenge is to ensure the ASC has sufficient capacity to accommodate these tailwinds. I feel approximately 70 percent of all orthopedic surgical care will ultimately be performed in the lower-cost ASC environment.
The need for financing these expansions is critical. Larger orthopedic groups that own large real estate holdings can leverage the real estate equity to fund these projects. Other groups without such real estate holdings may follow recent trends to join either larger orthopedic practices or management service organizations to access the needed capital while preserving the brand and clinical autonomy. There is a lot of excitement on the road ahead.