What 3 recent ASC transactions say about the industry

Here are three pivotal transactions and what they mean for the ASC industry at large:

1. Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare is continuing to double down on ASCs — its subsidiary United Surgical Partners International announced an agreement to acquire a stake in nine ASCs from ASC management group Compass Surgical Partners on Oct. 11.

When the transaction closes, USPI will acquire a 20 percent ownership interest in the centers.

Tenet's recent deals have pushed USPI ahead of the pack as the largest ASC management company in the country. 

Tenet sold five Florida hospitals to Dallas-based Steward Health Care for $1.1 billion in August. The company's ASCs were not included in the transaction, pointing to Tenet's focus on outpatient services. 

2. New York City-based private equity firm KKR and Indianapolis-based healthcare real estate firm Cornerstone are partnering to buy more than $1 billion in real estate assets over the next few years — focusing on acquiring ASCs, single-tenant medical office buildings and facility-based outpatient centers. 

Private equity is booming, with an increasing influence and interest in ASCs. Private equity firms were the buyer in 63 percent of second-quarter physician practice deals. 

Firms like KKR and IRA Capital's interest in ASCs will be something to keep an eye on as key disruptors of the traditional physician-owned model of ASCs. 

3. Two physicians and a local business owner are opening an ASC offering fixed pricing in Zionsville, Ind. 

The ASC, dubbed WellBridge Surgical, will post the prices, which owners say are 30 percent to 60 percent lower than market averages, upfront on the company's website. The procedure price will include facility charge, surgeon fee and anesthesiologist fee.

Price transparency is a controversial issue in healthcare. CMS' rule to make hospital pricing readily available to patients went into effect Jan. 1. 

In April, CMS began sending warning letters to hospitals not in compliance with the regulation. On Oct. 14, CMS sent 32 hospitals requests for a corrective action plan after they still were not in compliance with the price disclosure rule, an agency spokesperson told Becker's Hospital Review. 

Many ASC leaders expect price transparency to become the standard in all of healthcare — including ASCs.  

"I think we all need to be moving toward complete price transparency — with prices posted on the website for all to see," Vishal Mehta, MD, president and managing partner of Geneva, Ill.-based Fox Valley Orthopedics Ambulatory Surgery Center, told Becker's. "We are in the process of doing this currently. I am confident everyone will be there in the next few years."

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