OrthoIllinois' Dr. Michael Chmell: 2 key thoughts on the ASC's ownership structure, TJR program

Many opportunities are erupting in the outpatient landscape, as surgery centers can truncate overall costs while simultaneously providing optimal patient outcomes. With hospitals facing slimmer margins and pressure to operate in an environment that emphasizes value, hospitals and healthcare systems are eyeing ASCs as a potential partner to move forward in healthcare's rather uncertain future.

Michael Chmell, MD, medical director of Rockford-based OrthoIllinois, discusses the surgery center's fruitful relationship with a local hospital and its total joint program.   

Here are two key thoughts from Dr. Chmell:

1. The ASC's physician owners have a collaborative relationship with their hospital partners. OrthoIllinois' ownership is divided among the ASC's physician owners and the local hospital, Rockford-based OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. The surgery center's 16 physician owners have a 75 percent stake with OSF holding the remaining 25 percent. Dr. Chmell notes although the percentage of ownership has fluctuated over the years, the physicians have always held the majority stake.

"We had a relationship with the hospital long before we had our surgery center and have done a lot of inpatient surgery there," he says. "There is nothing contentious [between the hospital and OrthoIllinois]. It is profitable for both of us and they trust us to run it."

Having a hospital partner can help a surgery center land on its feet after opening its doors, as opening any business comes with a slew of startup costs, such as purchasing land and acquiring all the necessary equipment. Moving forward, Dr. Chmell says the surgery center strives to move more cases from the hospital's operating room to the ASC, especially as the industry pushes providers to lower costs across the care continuum.

2. OrthoIllinois is continuing to bolster its TJR program. Since rolling out its total joint replacement program in January 2016, OrthoIllinois surgeons have performed 160 TJRs. With a good number of successful procedures under its belt, the program's success moving forward entails limiting the number of vendors the ASC works with. Dr. Chmell says OrthoIllinois is in the process of narrowing down to one vendor, but is struggling with surgeon preferences.

"Everyone is familiar with a given vendor," he says. The four surgeons performing total joints use a handful of different companies, but Dr. Chmell emphasizes all the surgeons are willing to adapt.

"Each one of us is comfortable with our representatives and instrumentation," he says. "[However], we all agreed if the board decides on one vendor, we will all use them."

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