Hospitals, health systems jump on the ASC bandwagon; 76% increased investments from 2019-20

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Hospitals and health systems want in on lucrative ASC opportunities, according to Avanza Healthcare Strategies' "2020 ASC Survey" of 106 senior healthcare executives and clinical leaders.

"ASCs continue to be the model for providing high-quality, low-cost surgical care, and many hospitals are converting their outpatient departments or migrating cases to ASCs," said Avanza President and CEO Joan Dentler. "This was true before the pandemic reinforced the business case for every hospital having a freestanding ASC in its portfolio."

Seven key insights from the survey, which was sponsored by Avanza and conducted by HealthLeaders Media prior to the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. The number of hospitals and health systems planning to increase their investments in ASCs rose from 44 percent to 67 percent from 2019-20.

"Payer pressures and other market forces have softened hospitals' historically defensive posture toward ASCs, paving the way for overall growth, lower operating costs and heightened patient satisfaction," Ms. Dentler said.

2. In the same time frame, 76 percent of larger hospitals reported increasing their ASC investments.

3. The number of hospitals owning or affiliating with more than one ASC shot up 17 percentage points from 2019-20.

4. In 2020, 75 percent of hospitals with 200-plus beds have more than one ASC.

5. Fifty-eight percent of hospitals and health systems with ASCs reported involvement in at least one ASC joint venture, a decrease from previous years.

"Gone are the days when hospitals formed joint ventures under pressure from surgeons. They now do it proactively because it's good business," Ms. Dentler said.

6. One-third of hospitals allow employed physicians to invest in ASCs, the lowest number in three years.

7. Sixteen percent of hospitals outsourced ASC management services in 2020, down from 23 percent in 2019, indicating that hospitals and health systems are "refining their in-house ASC expertise and resources to manage surgery centers themselves," according to Ms. Dentler.

More articles on surgery centers:
10 most-read ASC stories — How ASC leaders are thinking about a COVID-19 vaccine
Mayo Clinic in Wisconsin implements COVID-19-related visitor restrictions
Pennsylvania health system activates surge plan for mounting COVID-19 cases

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