Outlook on ASC consolidation + 3 things to prepare for in the future

Matthew Searles, partner at Merritt Healthcare Advisors, discusses key trends for ASCs today and where the industry is headed.

Question: What are the most important trends you're seeing in the ASC field today?

Matthew Searles: ASCs should be prepared: (1) for a move to value based payment models; (2) with strategies to succeed in an increasingly employed physician population; and (3) initiatives to safely accommodate higher acuity cases as well as other growth areas such as cardiology.

Q: What are the key challenges keeping ASC administrators up at night?

MS: In addition to the issues outlined above, primary concerns should always be patient safety and regulatory compliance.

Q: What are the top one or two solutions to the big challenges you're seeing for ASCs today?

MS: Invest in systems, align with other providers and seek to expand where feasible.

Q: How do you see the ASC and outpatient surgery arena changing in the next 18 to 24 months? What is driving that change?

MS: Continued consolidation and elimination of outsized reimbursements due to a number of reasons, not the least of which is price transparency, are driving change in the market.

Q: Where is the best opportunity for ASCs to thrive in the future? What do they need to do today to set a solid foundation for success?

MS: ASC business model is still highly relevant but must adapt to the issues outlined in previous answers.

Q: How will private equity investment change the physician practice and ASC field?

MS: PE is acting as a facilitator for consolidation, providing management and capital to make healthcare organizations larger and more efficient. Not all will succeed but certainly some will achieve the goal of establishing scalable, competitive integrated healthcare businesses.

Q: Do you see a place for solo and small group practitioners and centers, or is there more consolidation in the ASC field on the horizon?

MS: While there will always be exceptions, I see a diminishing role for solo and small group practitioners, especially in markets where consolidation is prevalent. ASCs that can grow compliantly and profitably will always have role because they are the low cost provider in the market for outpatient surgery.

Q: Is the push for price transparency in healthcare good or bad for ASCs? Why?

MS: Price transparency is good for consumers and efforts to lower healthcare costs. The cost of any proposed treatments should always be disclosed to the patient, from both and ethical and practical perspective. Price transparency is also good for the ASC industry, where cost is low and quality is generally high. Transparency will also be positive for any larger health system or consolidator that is investing in a shift to value based care.

Mr. Searles will share his expertise as a speaker at the Becker's ASC 26th Annual Meeting: The Business and Operations of ASCs, Oct. 24-26, 2019 in Chicago. To learn more and register, click here. For more information about exhibitor and sponsor opportunities, contact Maura Jodoin at mjodoin@beckershealthcare.com. 

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