SCA Health's shifting growth strategy

SCA Health seems to be taking a different approach to growth than other ASC chains in 2023. 

SCA Health, affiliate of healthcare disruptor Optum, is one of the largest ASC chains in the country, with more than 320 surgical facilities and 9,200 physicians in its network. It serves 1.43 million patients annually. 

What SCA has done in 2023 so far

SCA Health hasn't been nearly as active in the ASC industry as its competitors, but it has made some updates to its leadership.

SCA Health's CEO Caitlin Zulla was promoted to CEO of Optum Health's east region in March. Now SCA Health is led by its former president Jason Strauss, who has been with the company for 15 years.

SCA Health's lack of activity in the ASC space adds up. Since the company's rebrand last May, it has expanded its focus beyond ASCs.

"When I joined the organization in 2015, we were an ambulatory surgery center company singularly focused on partnering with surgeons in their ASCs," Ms. Zulla told Becker's last year. "Since then, we've evolved to support physician specialists more holistically across the specialty care continuum."

With this shift, Optum and SCA Health are looking at growth not just through the number of ASCs but also "the quality of care we provide, the proportion of spend in value-based care arrangements, [and] our increased connectivity to practices and health systems."

Most recently, Optum snagged Middletown, N.Y.-based Crystal Run Healthcare, a multispecialty physician group with more than 400 providers. It also acquired Houston-based Kelsey-Seybold for $3 billion, Dallas-based Healthcare Associates of Texas for $300 million, and Auburndale, Mass.-based Atrius Health for $236 million in the last year. 

What competitors are doing

Surgery Partners is looking to another growth strategy. The company has been on a megadeal spree in recent weeks. In just six days, the healthcare services company acquired Kansas Spine & Specialty Hospital in Wichita, signed a collaboration agreement with Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health, and formed a new company with Columbus-based OhioHealth.

ASC giant United Surgical Partners International is also looking to a more aggressive growth strategy. USPI said in 2022 that they plan to have more than 600 ASCs by the end of 2025. This year, the chain's parent company Tenet Healthcare plans to invest $250 million into ASC mergers and acquisitions.

USPI is also changing up its leadership, announcing in January that its current CEO Brett Brodnax will be retiring at the end of 2023. 

In February, USPI expanded its partnership with Renton, Wash.-based Providence to develop additional ASCs. The two organizations first partnered in 2004 on five joint-venture ASCs and built two more in 2022. 

Though HCA Healthcare has been less active in the ASC sphere than its competitors, it has made a few notable moves. In January, LCMC Health finalized its $150 million purchase of three of the company's hospitals. In April, HCA Healthcare named Jyric Sims, PhD, president of its West Florida division.

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