'Another challenging year for ASCs': What's in store for surgery centers in 2023

As elective procedures continue to shift to the ASC setting, the growth of surgery centers seems inevitable, but the movement is not without its challenges.

Four healthcare leaders connected with Becker's to answer, "What does 2023 have in store for the ASC industry?"

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Carlos Bagley, MD. Director of UT Southwestern Spine Center (Dallas): I think the industry will continue to see tremendous growth as the residual impact from the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation exert additional economic strain and pressure in the healthcare sector. I see these forces accelerating the shift to the ASC environment for some organizations that have been reluctant to make this pivot.

Ruth Bedwell, BSN. Clinical Director of Sterile Processing at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus (Falls Church, Va.): I think 2023 would have us looking at ASC in a more strategic fashion. Resources and talent are harder to come by and the focus should be geared to specialty not generalist operations. I would think outpatient facilities should join forces and distribute cases based on type but purchase and run as single entities. This move also supports an increased operational throughput and minimizes inventory needs. By organizing you can increase buying power and distribution or resources.  

Brenda Carter. Administrator of Wilmington (N.C.) Surgcare: 2023 will be yet another challenging year for ASCs. With ongoing supply chain issues, increased supply and equipment costs and the ever-increasing need to push salaries higher to remain competitive, there is no shortage of financial challenges. We look forward to increasing case volumes by creating efficiencies, streamlining billing processes and introducing new service lines to bolster the bottom line. This will be an exciting year as more and more procedures become recognized in the ASC environment. The challenge will be in remaining vigilant on revenue and expenses, making wise choices and creating an environment that is preferred by surgeons and patients. It's going to be an exciting year indeed.

Peter Whang, MD. Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Yale University School of Medicine (New Haven, Conn.): I believe that the shift of spinal procedures from the inpatient setting to ASCs has been facilitated in recent years by advances in surgical and anesthetic techniques, and this process was only further accelerated by the pandemic which served to highlight the potential safety and efficiencies of ASCs relative to hospitals. With the growing financial pressures that surgeons and institutions are facing on a daily basis, I expect that this trend will continue in 2023 and beyond. I think that outpatient spine surgery will prove to be an important strategy for us to address the headwinds that exist in healthcare today.

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