ASC chains off to booming start: 4 first-quarter notes

From physician onboarding to rebounding surgical volumes, ASC management companies hit the ground running in the first quarter of 2021.

Four notes from first-quarter earnings calls:

1. Surgery Partners increased physician recruitment. The company added 25 percent more physicians compared to the same time last year, according to CEO Eric Evans.

"Our ability to drive leading same-facility growth is a direct result of our investments in physician recruiting, targeted facility-level and service line expansions, and our relentless data-driven focus on managed care contracting," he said. "We continue to see increased demand from new physicians for our short-stay surgical facilities and our targeted physician recruitment approach has focused our efforts on the highest quality physicians."

2. Outpatient surgery at HCA Healthcare centers in the first quarter of 2021 was almost identical to March 2019, CEO Sam Hazen said. The rebound helped grow first-quarter revenue.

"When I look broadly across outpatient volumes, not just surgical, cardiac volume, very strong performance in electrophysiology on the cardiac side, recovery in endoscopic procedures on the outpatient side," he said. 

3. Sixteen United Surgical Partners International centers launched service lines in the first quarter, including total joints, spine and robotic surgeries. USPI's total joint business grew 110 percent in the first quarter compared to the same time last year. 

4. Optum now has 56,000 affiliated, contracted and employed physicians and is on track to add 10,000 physicians this year, Wyatt Decker, CEO of OptumHealth said.

"We eliminated much of the clerical burden in our physicians and advanced practitioners' practice and let them focus on the work they love," said Mr. Decker. "So this is really gaining traction among our physician workforce."

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