Acquisitions, price transparency & more: The key trends affecting the ASC industry from Flagship Healthcare Properties' Gordon Soderlund

Gordon Soderlund, executive vice president of strategic relationships for Flagship Healthcare Properties, weighed in on the key growth opportunities in the ASC industry over the next 10 years.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What is the biggest opportunity for growth you see for ASCs in the next 10 years? As an ASC leader, how do you hope to capitalize on growth opportunities?

Gordon Soderland: Flagship Healthcare Properties anticipates the healthcare industry will experience a continuing shift of patient volumes to outpatient settings, and there will be an increasing shift of more complex surgeries due to advances in procedures, technology, medical devices and pharmacological applications. There are numerous reasons this solid trend will continue, including the following:

1. According to the Advisory Board, CMS is increasingly removing procedures from its inpatient-only lists and adding them to ASC-covered procedure lists, such as cardiac catheterization, total knee arthroplasty and total and partial hip replacements.

CMS is expanding the definition of surgery to include "surgery-like" services, thus expanding the range of procedures that could be added to their ASC list in the future.

2. Payers — CMS and insurers — are adjusting reimbursement rates to providers and insurance premiums from patients to favor ASCs because they are lower-cost, more efficient venues than inpatient settings. Insurers are also attempting to control the referral volume by primary care physicians to ASCs rather than to hospitals and are encouraging consumers to choose ASCs by creating more favorable co-pay structures.

3. Hospitals and health systems have been aggressively acquiring ASCs and employing their physician owners. Once acquired, health systems are shifting patient volume to these newly acquired facilities from other employed and affiliated surgeons to achieve maximum utilization.

4. As consumers become increasingly responsible for the cost of healthcare and procedure pricing becomes more transparent, patients will shift their buying decisions to lower-cost, higher-quality providers delivering a better experience.

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