Payer contracts, communication & robotics: 4 ASC leaders discuss key investment areas

Improved communication systems, payer contracting and robotic investment are three areas ASCs are anticipated to focus on in the coming years.

During an Oct. 2 panel at the Becker's ASC Virtual Event, four industry leaders discussed key areas they expect ASCs to invest in over the next five years. Panelists included:

  • Matthew Ewasko, administrator of Physicians Alliance Surgery Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
  • Bill Berryhill, MD, managing partner of Heart of Texas Surgery Center in Waco
  • Jason Strauss, chief operating officer of Surgical Care Affiliates in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Paul MacKoul, MD, cofounder of The Center for Innovative GYN Care in Rockville, Md. 

Below is an excerpt from that discussion. Click here to view the full panel on-demand as well as access other panels and interviews from the event.

Note: responses are lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: This year has seen significant investment in telemedicine, remote patient monitoring systems and contactless payment systems. What do you see as the next big technology investment for ASCs?

Dr. Berryhill: I think it's going to be in the field of communication with our patients. Over the last several months, what we have to do in the preoperative stages has changed. As different procedures are being performed — in our case the addition of cardiology patients — if they become ill or have a problem, you have to change your schedule on that day and communicate with your patients very quickly. 

Mr. Ewasko: I also believe it will be communication. We recently implemented an app that our surgeons can have on their phone or their iPad that gives them a real-time view into their patient scheduling. If there's any kind of updates, they can see that as well as their office, which will really speed up and help with any changes for block schedules. We're also looking at making our patient check-in process and overall experience more remote and to give not only the patients, but their family members visibility into what's going on. 

Mr. Strauss: I would bucket this into three ways that I see technology over the next five years. Firstly, how do we better communicate with our patients? We had to do so through telemedicine over the course of COVID, but I wouldn't expect to see that over the next five years. Secondly, as more technology enables procedures to shift to the outpatient surgery center, surgical hospital or hybrid environment, we will inevitably invest in additional technology to enable procedures to be done there. Lastly, how do we get paid? How do we invest in technology that enables payment? Whether that's directly from health plans or through large employers, we need to ensure that we're able to communicate to those patients, capture them at the surgery center and ultimately get paid by whoever the payer is. 

Dr. MacKoul: It really comes down to payer contracts. If you can get payer contracting where you need it to be, you can run a very successful ASC. We've done that to the point where we can sort of move into something very expensive — robotics. Why robotics? Because GYNs use robots. There's a lot of different reasons for that. We don't use a robot on a day-to-day basis, but bringing in a robot increases access, exposure and volume. With the appropriate contracts, you really get a win-win situation for the patient, the physician and the ASC.

More articles on ASCs:
12-OR ASC part of $295M Florida orthopedic hospital expansion
3 ASCs launching total joint programs
4 ASCs installing total joint robots

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