Where ASC consolidation is headed

Prashanth Bala, vice president of ASC operations at Shields Health in Quincy, Mass., spoke with Becker's to discuss the trajectory of ASC consolidation.

Editor's note: This piece was edited lightly for brevity and clarity.

Question: How do you see consolidation evolving?

Prashanth Bala: Consolidation is an interesting question. Here in Massachusetts, we have seen private equity start to move into the orthopedic space. We've also seen it move into the vascular space. With it being such a small state, that has resounding impacts. So we're seeing how that's playing out now. I think only time will tell how much of a true impact private equity will have on care delivery or the access to care that such funds are able to help bring to the community. We're really optimistic that, even despite that, our partnerships are strong. That's our opportunity to continue to work with our partners to maximize our ability to transform healthcare and also provide that care for our communities. We're really excited about where we are and what we're doing in that space.

Q: Can you talk more about the shift of orthopedics and cardiovascular into ASCs?

PB: Office-based labs are starting to grow in Massachusetts and that's prevalent around the country. We're also looking at the office-based lab ASC hybrid space in Massachusetts and New England in general.

That's probably the next foray that most organizations are going to have to start to look at if they aren't already. What's after your bread and butter? Orthopedics is our bread and butter. We have other specialties within our mix as well within our multispecialty surgery centers. But I think the future really has those higher acuity cases that have predominantly been hospital procedures now coming to the outpatient setting, vascular surgeons and some cardiologists are just perfect for. So creating those opportunities — especially if their employment is such that they can take those cases to where they can, such as an ASC — does great things for the community, great things for the patients, and ultimately, for healthcare in general.

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