The ASCs of the future

When one thinks of the future, flying cars and living on Mars may come to mind. But what does the future hold for ASCs? 

Blane Uthman, CEO of Spine Center of Excellence in Bossier City, La., spoke with Becker's to discuss the ASCs of the future. 

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What will the ASCs of the future look like in 10 or more years from now?

Blane Uthman: There's a nationwide shift and it's led by payers and government entities to push more and more traditional surgery into the ASC spaces. We still have an inpatient-only list, but I think in 10 years there won't be an inpatient-only list. I think that ASCs and physicians will be tasked with determining site suitability.

I would expect in 10 years that probably at least 75 percent of the surgery that's performed in America today would be done in an outpatient setting. What we'll see is that main hospital operating rooms will exist for things like high-acuity cardiac, spine, neuro, trauma, all of those kinds of things, or for people who have significant core morbidities and it just wouldn't be appropriate to treat them outside of a hospital. But other than that, most of these patients are going to be [treated] in an ASC.

I think you're also going to see ASCs specialize more, kind of like what we've done. I've run multispecialty surgery centers and those are great. But I think that when you're talking about higher-acuity things, putting together the teams both in terms of your capital investment, in terms of your human capital investment, physicians, advanced protocols, it's a lot easier to focus on one area of care. So for us, we can focus all of that in spine. If we were trying to do all of that for every possible procedure you could do, it would be a little difficult.

I think that the reality is what we're already starting to see. We're going to start seeing more cardiac ASCs, you'll see more spine-specific ASCs, you're going to find more total joint-specific ASCs that will focus on core competencies and the efficiencies they can bring to the table because they're focusing on a core competency and not trying to do everything under the sun.

The one caveat is, for any of this to happen, we're going to have to see increased reimbursement for the ASCs. 

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