How NueHealth & Physicians Endoscopy are responding to COVID-19

COVID-19 has left its mark on ASCs, with revenues tanking and management companies hurrying to figure out a way to help centers address the pandemic.

Here is how Leawood, Kan.-based ValueHealth vice chairman and CEO Dan Tasset and Jamison, Pa.-based Physicians Endoscopy President and CEO David Young are leading their organizations through the pandemic:

Dan Tasset: First, we're reaching out to our partners to make sure they're OK and to make sure we know what specific issues they're dealing with in real time. We know that while there are challenges that everyone has in common, the impacts of the crisis can be different in different communities. We're working with our hospital and health system partners to expedite the transitioning of non-emergency surgeries to our ASCs to both free up needed bed space in hospitals and maintain case volumes for our ASC physician-owners. At the same time, we're helping our partners communicate with their patients about the availability and safety of ASCs so that for the sake of their own health, they don't delay needed surgical procedures. Our operations team, particularly our supply chain management team, has been working around the clock to meet the needs of our partners — and everyone here has been outstanding in their willingness to go above and beyond because we know how much this matters.

As we're working through this immediate crisis, we're also helping our partners plan for the future. This is not going to be the last public health crisis, and even without a pandemic, we face an exponential growth in numbers of people who will eventually need medical care — so much so that we don't currently have enough beds for the number of Americans who will need them in the next six to eight years.

It is absolutely vital that hospitals and health systems develop a sustainable strategy now to address the future clinical needs of their patients requiring urgent, emergent and non-urgent surgery, so that's what we're continuing to put in place with our partners. Surgery will never be the same and it should not be.

Our investment thesis, which we executed eight years ago, envisioned an entire platform to lead this reinvention from disruption to a mainstream necessity. We have been working closely with our nationally recognized large physician groups and health system partners as well as major payers, national benefit consultants and the largest regional employers to prepare our partnerships and facilities for expansion and increased patient steerage. We are well prepared for a crisis, such as COVID-19, and designed to assist health systems who might not be as prepared to deal with surgical capacity issues. We are anxious and willing to share best practices we have developed with our partners in executing surgical strategies. ValueHealth is defining value for U.S. surgical care.

Our goal has always been, and will continue to be, to provide value to our partners, providers, employers and patients, and that includes assisting our partners in fulfilling their mission to serve their communities.

Note: ValueHealth is the parent company of surgical management firm NueHealth.

David Young: Our approach has been as follows with the goal of ensuring appropriate patient care is provided while ensuring the center is in a strong financial position to launch back to normal activity. This includes taking care of employees' safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Initial focus on understanding the clinical guidelines location by location to make sure the appropriate procedures are performed while assessing and taking account of patient and employee safety
  • Daily communication and discussion with center leadership as the rules have changed on a regular basis
  • Supporting financial decisions at the center by providing detailed cash flow analysis and forward financial pro forma analysis to allow decisions around staffing and open versus close of center on a daily basis
  • Helping link centers across the Physicians Endoscopy network to see if patients can be moved to a central location to be able to allow for appropriate patient care and ensure there is staff coverage and clinical provider availability
  • Supporting discussion to deal with financial obligations covering leases, anesthesia and other vendor payments to build flexibility into these obligations given the current circumstances
  • Working with distributors to make sure we have availability of supplies and coordinating the movement of supplies across centers to optimize availability
  • Providing guidance to our partners on telehealth and how to implement telehealth across the practice to support the delivery of patient care
  • Trying to provide informational, emotional and intellectual support to center staff and to our physician partners and their practices on a daily basis

Our key is having the team available to talk to the doctors and center staff daily to be able to provide understanding, interpretation and assurance on the steps to take and decisions to be made.

More articles on surgery centers:
ASCs could get financial relief under $2 trillion stimulus law — 4 things to know
Can ASCs help with the COVID-19 surge?
California's 750+ ASCs prepare to expand services for COVID-19 surge


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