What will ASC competition look like in 5 years?

The ASC industry has faced immense shifts in the past few years from the COVID-19 pandemic and overall healthcare consolidations, leaving leaders wondering how ASCs will adapt. 

Six ASC administrators spoke with Becker's ASC Review on how they predict competition will evolve in the next five years. 

Here are their five major predictions:

1. Payer changes 

Some leaders think ASCs' provision of quality patient experience and reduced cost will drive the alignment of payers, which could force ASCs to restructure. 

"With healthcare payers more aggressively entering the care-delivery market to direct patients and case completion, it will be necessary for private groups and healthcare organizations alike to align the efforts of their value-equation model to compete for participation in [accountable care organizations] and receive case authorization," said Matt Kraemer, orthopedic service line administrator of Northern Arizona Healthcare in Flagstaff. 

2. Technology

Some administrators, like Catherine Retzbach, RN, of Memorial Ambulatory Surgery Center in Mt. Holy, N.J., predict that ASC competition will hinge on their adoption of new technologies and new procedures such as cardiac and spine. 

"The most innovative and flexible centers will be the centers that will survive and thrive," she said.

With new technology and techniques driving cases to the outpatient setting, ASCs will remain competitive by meeting demand. 

"This has opened the door to allow booming ASC volumes and driven the demand and encourages physician investment and participation in ASC ventures," said Georgianne Maxwell, administrator at Salem (N.J.) ASC. 

3. Data analytics

Mr. Kraemer added that data analytics will be key to staying competitive — driving quality and outcomes. 

"The use and reporting of objective data and comparing to national benchmarking will be instrumental in demonstrating individual proficiency in achieving these goals," he said. "Early adoption of evidence-based best practices and hardwiring these processes with consistent governance oversight and analysis will be key to accomplishing this."

4. Consolidation

ASC leaders also pointed to the consolidation of the market as a driver of ASC competition. 

"I predict that the ASC market will continue to evolve, not too dissimilar to that of recent times," said Jay Raifman, administrator of South Shore Ambulatory Surgery Center in Lynbrook, N.Y. "By that I mean partnerships, mergers and acquisitions by and between private-equity firms, large hospital systems and smaller physician group partnerships."

"I would expect that ASCs will become more tightly aligned with both private physician groups as well as healthcare organizations," Mr. Kraemer added. 

Ms. Retzbach noted that this consolidation only will increase as ASC staff age out of the industry.  

"There will be merging and consolidation of centers as the providers and staff continue to age out," she said. "If the medical provider shortage pans out as predicted, it will force consolidation."

5. Patient-centered care 

As patients become increasingly educated, ASCs will need to stay on top of these changes in order to compete. 

"Patients are now much more educated and aware that their procedures can be done in environments that are tailored for comfort, efficiency and true patient-centric focus," said Tracy Helmer, administrator of Seven Hills ASC in Henderson, Nev. "Patients will continue to exercise their ability to choose their venue for surgery and we must be able to show our top-notch quality, in an environment where hospitals have long been considered the highest level."

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