DeeDee Dalke, solutions consultant at ASC management software company Simplify ASC, shared her insights on key ASC trends.
Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.
Question: What current growth opportunities do you think ASC administrators should capitalize on?
DeeDee Dalke: Per CMS approval, the move of inpatient procedures to ASCs is a growth opportunity for all of us. With this shift towards more complex procedures, you’re likely to see ASCs utilize additional 23-hour stay options. More specialty-only centers moving to multi specialty status is another opportunity on the horizon, but only where it makes sense, such as an ophthalmology-only center bringing on a plastic surgery capability. We’re also seeing more partnerships emerge to offer care from all sides: A joint or spine program might include the physician, at-home care post procedure, physical therapy and the ASC all partnering together to offer more coordinated care, which will help lower costs and boost the quality of care. Lastly, we need to make people more aware of our metrics. We have a good track record on infection control, patient satisfaction and patient safety, but we need to do a better job of promoting that record.
Q: What are the greatest challenges you see ASC leaders facing right now?
DD: Time is so limited. Being able to effectively and efficiently complete all the tasks a typical ASC faces in a single day: meetings, trainings, patient care and more. It often encroaches on personal time and can lead to burnout.
Software is also a challenge. So many ASCs are doing manual reports because their system can’t produce what they need. Things like case costing, quality measures, or inventory audits. It’s a real struggle to report data. Staying on top of the regulation standards and transparency measures needed to monitor patient satisfaction and cost is another issue. Bundled or limited payments for procedures has all of us paying even closer attention to cost within a facility. If we’re going to meet all these challenges, ASCs need to invest in advocacy. We need to stick together and support each other, and educate government officials on our critical role in the healthcare system.
Finally, staff retention is an emerging challenge. ASCs pride themselves on the close-knit, family-like working arrangements they’re able to develop, so keeping nurses and staff engaged, motivated and loyal is key for preserving that positive work environment.
Q: Where do you see the ASC industry going in the next five to 10 years?
DD: Scientific advances and medical innovation, together with cost control pressures, will push more complex surgeries out of the inpatient sphere and into outpatient surgery centers. Second, physicians will utilize ASCs more, and given a choice, patients will seek to have their procedures performed in an ASC because of their proven track record of convenience, patient safety and low infection rates.There is a tremendous opportunity for ASCs to show how this track record stacks up against a hospital setting.