How declining pay is pushing physicians to ASCs

If CMS' proposed physician fee cut of 4.42 percent takes effect, the move has the potential to further push physicians to ASC settings.

Four specialties — cardiology, hematology, radiology and pediatrics — have already seen a drop in pay without the potential CMS pay cuts. Interventional cardiology saw the biggest dip, a 13.7 percent decrease, in average starting salary over the past year.

ASCs leaders see a huge opportunity for growth in offering cardiology in ASCs, and with cardiology salaries already decreasing, further pay cuts could drive cardiologists into ASCs.

Other specialists who are not happy with their pay could follow suit.

Two healthcare leaders recently connected with Becker's to answer: "How is declining physician pay affecting the ASC industry?"

Editor's note: Response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Kimberly Cantees, MD. Clinical Director of UPMC Presbyterian Operating Rooms (Pittsburgh): Physician pay has decreased in the inpatient and outpatient settings over the years. Why would a physician not choose to work in an ambulatory setting? The patients are healthier, more motivated and the outcomes are positive. Not to mention the added benefit of better work-life balance and all that means to an individual. No hospital discharge, home at the time that the ambulatory surgery center chooses to end the day.

Whitney Limm, MD. Chief Physician Executive and Executive Vice President of Clinical Integration at The Queen's Health System (Honolulu): In Honolulu, we have seen a large number of MDs in gastroenterology, orthopedics, urology and ophthalmology transition cases to their ASCs. ASC facilities are preferred for financial and efficiency reasons, and patients generally follow the recommendation of their physicians.

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