Physician alignment, competition from independent ASCs & more: 3 outpatient market insights from Trevor Sawallish of Children's Minnesota

Trevor Sawallish, senior vice president of clinical operations and COO of Minneapolis/St. Paul-based Children's Minnesota, shared his insights on ambulatory services with Becker's ASC Review.

Note: Responses have been edited for style and clarity.

Question: What is the biggest growth opportunity for ASCs in 2019?

Trevor Sawallish: As a pediatric-focused provider, we continue to see growth potential in services for children and families across specialties. Children's has recently been accredited a Level I surgery center operation by the American College of Surgeons, and we believe this recognition reinforces and recognizes the unique service we offer for kids who need procedures/surgery.

We also believe that working with payers to highlight our pediatric-focused, low-cost, high-quality center for their members represents a growth opportunity that will benefit plans and patients. We have the opportunity to utilize our ASC to flex demand from our main hospital campuses. Each year, we will have periods of increased demand, where we need to optimize hospital capacity. There is an opportunity to transition appropriate surgical cases to the ASC to relieve demand on hospital services, while meeting the needs of our patients and families.

Q: As an ASC leader, how do you hope to capitalize on growth opportunities?

TS: We hope to capitalize on the following opportunities:

• We will look to promote our differentiated services, quality and patient satisfaction outcomes directly to patients. We receive tremendous responses from our patients and families about their experience at our ASC. We need to continue to promote our outcomes and access.

• We will emphasize our ASC more consistently in our scheduling practices.

• We will work with our broad network of pediatric providers to expand services, capability and availability of proximal physician office space to make it easier to choose our ASC.

Q: What are the greatest challenges you expect to face in 2019?

TS: Physician demand alignment – both independent and employed physicians are faced with making critical decisions on how to allocate their limited capacity between hospital-based/inpatient, clinic and ASC practices. We need to continue to support our physicians and how they manage their practice, but look to emphasize the need for lower-cost, high-quality services. Consumerism will drive site selection based on price, quality and experience:the value proposition. We will be focused on making our pediatric-focused ASC the easiest and best choice for physicians and the families for which they are caring.

Q: How do you see the ASC industry growing in the next five to 10 years?

TS. With continued development of value-based strategies to provide a high-quality, lower-cost portfolio of services, we expect to see the transition of inpatient surgeries to an outpatient setting with ASCs playing a pivotal role. Our role is to ensure that shift is to an ASC environment that is also dedicated to caring for kids.

In our local market, we expect to see quite a bit of growth and competition as a number of adult and physician-owned ASCs lead the way advancing clinical services, specifically orthopedics and gastroenterology.

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For a deeper dive into ASC industry trends, attend the Becker's 17th Annual Future of Spine + Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC in Chicago, June 13-15, 2019. Click here to learn more and register.

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