Life after COVID-19 — What the pandemic + an impending recession could mean for ASCs

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world more "infection-conscious," which could accelerate ASC migration down the line, according to Atlas Surgical Group CEO Shakeel Ahmed, MD.

Dr. Ahmed spoke to Becker's ASC Review about how the new coronavirus has affected Atlas Surgical Group — one of the St. Louis metropolitan area's largest private surgical groups — and what it could mean for the future of ASCs.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: How has the coronavirus affected day-to-day operations at your surgery centers?

Dr. Shakeel Ahmed: Understandably, the ASC industry is affected in the same way that all the other fields of life are. Elective surgeries are down. The sick, of course, continue to have access to our facilities.

Q: What do you believe will be the long-term financial impact for the ASC industry?

SA: In the long run, there will be an exponential migration of elective surgeries to ASCs, especially in light of current events. People are more infection-conscious, and ASCs are seen as lower-exposure risks for elective cases.

In addition, with the impending recession, the cost value that ASCs bring to the healthcare system will come into the forefront. With the massive hit that our economy just took, the statistically proven $40 billion a year saved through ASC migration will be very visible to payers and CMS. This is the moment to realize how valuable our industry can be to the healthcare system.

Q: How are your ASCs providing assistance to hospitals strapped for resources?

SA: We are at the forefront of this battle, together with all our other colleagues. We are offering free access to overflow patients from the hospitals. We have listed all our facilities as volunteer sites for overflow cases, should the need arise.

Want to share your thoughts on this topic? Email Angie Stewart: astewart@beckershealthcare.com.

More articles on surgery centers:
'It's everybody against the infection': Texas ASC administrator on keeping germs at bay
4 new orthopedic ASCs
ASCs will likely pick up more procedures when coronavirus subsides: 5 must-reads this week

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