Patient consumerism trends affecting ASCs: USC Medical Group chief shares her insights

Smitha Ravipudi, is the CEO of USC Medical Group in Los Angeles. Before joining USC, Ms. Ravipudi was vice president of ambulatory and access operations for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Here, Ms. Ravipudi shares her thoughts with Becker's ASC Review about ASC and outpatient trends.

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: How has the ASC landscape changed in California in recent years, and how do you expect it to change moving forward?

Smitha Ravipudi: I think, in California and what we're seeing across the nation, is that there's just been an increase in the types of care provided in an ambulatory surgical setting. There's just been a shift in care leaving the hospital and moving into outpatient centers, whether they're outpatient surgical centers, imaging centers, and of course at some point, even getting as close to a patient's home, and if not, inside. And so in California over the recent years, the number of ASCs has grown, as well as the procedures that are being performed. Orthopedic surgery and spine has seen a big shift.

And due to a very competitive market where payers are looking for the most competitive rates, ASCs are lower-cost settings, and therefore are able to compete in a space where traditional hospitals are not able to due to their higher cost structure. Another reason for the growth is that patients just prefer to get care closer to home, but here in California, especially in Southern California, it takes forever to get anywhere. And so there's a lot of deliberate intention to bring care closer to communities, inside communities. And again, ASCs offer a level of convenience that a traditional hospital may not necessarily have.

Q: Do you see an overall trend of patients affecting the shift to outpatient procedures or ASCs in general?

SR: I think the consumer in healthcare is the same consumer that is in all sorts of retail spaces. And there has been such an increased focus on accessibility, convenience, education and all the different ways in which consumers get information, shop and get access to products.

All of that has created a platform where that same need transitions into the healthcare space. And so, certainly, an increased need for services to happen more quickly.

There's a huge emphasis on convenience that consumers are bringing to the table, and that's where ASCs and outpatient centers are more inclined to meet those needs versus your larger hospital campus sites that are located on a plot of land and in one area and have kind of a fixed set of resources and a cost structure and multiple priorities that may not make the procedures that an ASC does the main priority.

Q: Are there any specialties in particular that you can see moving to the outpatient setting?

SR: Orthopedics and spine have probably been the most recent. Payers prefer to have these procedures done in lower-cost settings. These patients don't need an overnight stay in a hospital. So as we look at the advancement in technology, I do believe that there will be some more cardiac procedures done in the outpatient setting.

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