ASCs often struggle to compete with larger health systems and practices for patients and contracts, but some are looking to technology to access economies of scale in the coming months.
"Growth in economies of scale through smart, cost effective technology is what I am thinking over the next 12 to 24 months," Mihir Patel, MD, treasurer of Indianapolis-based OrthoIndy, told Becker's.
Technology that reduces documentation burden "could be tremendous for practices," he said. Technologies like artificial intelligence can improve care models and facilitate device and administrative improvements.
Hospitals and insurers have sophisticated EHRs and data management systems to capture information about patients and deliver a high level of care. However, this technology is expensive, and some ASCs don't have the revenue to invest.
There's also the added costs of surgical tech.
"Another issue that makes me nervous is the cost of new technology, which is needed in order to stay competitive," Deborah Herdman, RN, administrator at Paragon Surgery Center in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, told Becker's.
Ms. Herdman said she used to work at an ASC with a surgical robot. The robot, even though it was an older model, cost more than $1 million, and for many physicians, it's "unsatisfactory to use older technology."
But investments in technology are often necessary. The lack of digital capabilities could put ASCs behind in the race to attract patients, who are increasingly demanding a seamless healthcare experience in the patient-as-consumer era of healthcare.
"Without [EHRs], it will be very difficult to track outcomes and can have a detrimental effect on [ASCs'] future payment structures," said Jeffrey Flynn, administrator and COO of Gramercy Surgery Center in New York City. "However, those centers that are thinking of this now and implementing the technology to track outcomes will benefit greatly as this new payment model takes place."
The future of healthcare revolves around technology, and if ASCs want to keep up in larger markets, technology could be the solution.
"Monumental efforts are growing with a focus on taking big data to eventually provide more personalized care. I think that machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a large role in further expanding the use of enabling technologies and driving down the cost of surgery, all in the name of providing greater safety and value to our patients," Philip Louie, MD, the medical director of research and academics at the Center for Neurosciences and Spine at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health in Seattle, told Becker's.