How ASCs can thrive in a competitive market

With heightened outpatient migration and new ASCs appearing to pop up daily, some centers are struggling to compete in their markets.

Seven ASC leaders joined Becker's to discuss tips for ASCs trying to thrive amid the competition. 

Editor's note: These answers were edited lightly for brevity and clarity.

Gabriel Ionescu, MD. Gastroenterologist at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center (New York City): ASCs will have to push for more procedures by creating cost savings and improving quality controls (i.e. shifting gastrointestinal cases to high-volume gastroenterologists with good quality benchmarks records). It is anticipated that lowering the colorectal cancer screening age will be beneficial to the ASCs, as these are younger, healthier patients. Also, introducing new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, will increase efficiency and quality while training extenders to perform simple gastrointestinal procedures. This will add value, especially in underserved areas. Challenges will continue to focus on case triage, retention of quality proceduralists and ancillary staff and supply chain disruptions.

Lee Holmes. Founder and CEO of DiaSante Health (Hendersonville, Tenn.): ASCs must continually prove they can provide the same or better outcomes with the same or better safety record and at a lower cost than traditional inpatient care.

Deb Meyer, RN. Administrator of Skyline Surgery Center (Pocatello, Idaho): Innovation is key, specifically in case mix and staffing needs. ASCs should recruit different types of providers of all service lines and provide them with adequate time and staffing to ensure success. Currently, we are in a wage war due to healthcare worker shortages. Healthcare workers are in such demand and can get paid nearly quadruple to work as a traveler within their own communities. This makes finding loyal employees harder and harder. ASCs don't have the resources available to increase the wage to meet this competition. Finding new, safe ways to staff will help keep the physicians bringing patients to the ASC, the staff happy and the patients well taken care of. Skyline is training all registered nurses to first-assist during surgery. We empower our physicians and staff with a voice by educating and asking for their solutions to problems. Make administrators and management working managers. Offer a good work-life balance and stand by promises. And, most importantly, lobby for traveler pay caps!

Rick Liwanag. Administrator of Gulf Coast Outpatient (Biloxi, Miss.): ASCs can remain competitive by focusing on quality care intertwined with cost. Cost-effective quality care is the only way we can capture the market.

Jason Richardson, CEO of Gastroenterology of the Rockies (Louisville, Colo.): To thrive in a competitive ASC market, ASCs must exceed customer expectations. Clinical outcomes and safety are table stakes. The community will choose the ASCs that provide convenient scheduling, friendly staff, clear communication and punctuality.  

Fray Arroyo-Mercado, MD. Gastroenterology fellow at University of New Mexico (Albuquerque): I think that ASCs can recruit physicians as professional contractors and also incentivize them with the ability to collect the physician fee for procedures. By doing this, physicians might feel more interested in joining them and be more productive. It is very advantageous because with a 1099 [tax form], we can deduct all of our expenses.

Emily Dilley. CEO of Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kan.: [ASCs can create] strategic partnerships and relationships that emphasize a collaborative approach for both organizations and is what is best for the patient. These need to be done from organization to organization, from provider to provider and team to team, to ensure the patient's continuum of care will be seamless. Secondly, to prove the ASC is a high-value (high-quality, low-cost) option compared to traditional mediums. This will provide the ASC with a "seat" at the table to negotiate with insurance companies on why they should be an approved in-network option for patients. Lastly, identify what the ASC's niche is and run with it. What does the ASC do better than anyone else and what is that important? Use positive word-of-mouth. Even in marketing  —  word-of-mouth is the best avenue when it comes to healthcare and patient experiences.

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