Banner Health kicks off 'rapid' ASC growth, relocates historic center — 7 insights from VP Joan Thiel

Banner Health's Banner Surgery Center-University — which opened 50 years ago in Phoenix under the name Surgicenter — is moving to a larger facility with eight operating rooms.

Joan Thiel, Banner Health's vice president of ambulatory services, spoke to Becker's ASC Review about why the relocation was necessary and what else is on the horizon for Banner — including rapid expansion in the surgery center arena.

Note: Responses were lightly edited for style and length.

Question: What prompted the relocation of Banner Surgery Center-University?

Joan Thiel: The original facility was aging, and the ORs were small — certainly smaller than what's ideal today. With so many more advances in technology and the ability to do more complex cases, the cost of refurbishing the old center really wouldn't have made sense. We thought to build a new center under that same great name and history, but with larger, more spacious operating rooms, and then we wanted it to be on the campus of our academic medical center that's more convenient for physicians and for patients. Those were the two main driving factors.

Q: How will the larger space benefit the ASC's long-term strategy?

JT: More complex cases are able to be done — major orthopedic procedures like total joints, and now we're seeing spine procedures. That technology takes room, and so I think that this will enable us to do a lot more of those complex cases. As technology advances and CMS approves more as appropriate for the ambulatory space, we're able to do more and more.

Q: What kind of technology has the ASC been equipped with?

JT: We will be using robotics. In addition, we'll be doing spine cases there. Certainly the total joint replacements, things like that. We don't have capacity today or the capability today, but we intend to allow for overnight stays there in the future, which will open up the type of appropriate cases even more greatly than what we can do today.

Q: So, patients who have more complicated situations coming into the procedure?

JT: Correct. And that's again where the on-campus proximity is really helpful, as we deal with patients with comorbidities and other kinds of things that make it a little bit more beneficial, from a patient safety perspective, to have an on-campus location.

Q: What does Banner Health's surgery center strategy look like for the rest of the year?

JT: We have rapid growth and expansion planned for ASCs. As more and more care is appropriately outmigrating from acute care hospitals, we want to stand ready to take care of patients at convenient, close-to-home locations. It's also a more affordable option for many patients. We have 10 centers to date. By the end of this year, we estimate we'll have at least five more, and then over the next several years, rapid growth is planned.

Q: What kinds of specialties will be offered at these centers?

JT: We're still working on that, but we'll have a combination of single-specialty centers sometimes, like a gastroenterology or endoscopy center, as well as these large, multispecialty centers. There will be some that are focused on ophthalmology and pain procedures. So, really, as the need presents itself, we'll have an ASC of either multispecialty or single-specialty bend.

Q: Are we talking primarily in the Phoenix area, or even beyond that?

JT: Beyond that. Banner Health has three major markets. Our largest presence is in Phoenix, but we also have facilities and will have ASCs in the Tucson [Ariz.] market as well as northern Colorado.

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