Why Intermountain wants to partner with more ASCs

As more elective procedures move out of hospitals and into surgery centers, more healthcare organizations are aiming to reap the benefits of ASCs.

Among these organizations is Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health.

When asked about the health system's biggest opportunities for growth in the next three years, Janie Wade, CFO of Intermountain, told Becker's, "There's also tuck-in growth opportunities including ASCs, imaging centers and physician practice acquisitions. We don't have any large merger and acquisition targets on the horizon. It's primarily growth in our existing markets in the communities we already serve and bringing our quality of care, affordability and innovation into those communities with new providers and services."

Intermountain currently has five surgery centers across Utah and is planning to open more over the course of the next year, according to their website. All Intermountain ASCs are a joint venture between the health system and community surgeons.

"In some cases, it makes sense for ASCs to be wholly owned and in others it makes sense to partner with physicians in a joint venture," Ms. Wade told Becker's. "Sometimes we're not the experts at managing something, and we want a partner that can help us manage operations and deliver the best care and service to our patients. It depends on the market and on where the expertise is." 

Other health systems are also looking to partner with ASCs or even partner with other facilities or companies to create them. 

On March 22, Duluth, Minn.-based St. Luke's opened Northern Lakes Surgery Center in Moose Lake, Minn., through a partnership with Moose Lake-based Gateway Family Health Clinic. It is the only freestanding surgery center in the Moose Lake area.

In February, United Surgical Partners International expanded its partnership with Renton, Wash.-based Providence to develop additional ASCs. USPI and Providence first partnered in 2004 on five joint-venture ASCs and built two more in 2022. They plan to develop additional joint venture ASCs in the Western U.S.

So what does this mean for ASCs? Some ASCs may view these partnerships as a viable option to stay afloat during times of economic uncertainty. However, if more ASCs decide to take hospitals up on their offers to partner up, it could result in fewer independent ASCs. 

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