ASCs in 2016: Targeting consumers next year

The new year poses an opportunity for healthcare professionals to evaluate what may or may not have proved fruitful in 2015. It's a time to assess the potential opportunities for success based on the way healthcare is trending. Going forth into 2016, Arvind Movva, MD, a gastroenterologist at Regional Surgicenter in Moline, Ill., and CEO of Gastroenterology Consultants, is working to market ASCs for the consumer.

"We haven't done enough to promote the benefits such as better outcomes an ASC offers," says Dr. Movva. "We have to articulate the cost effectiveness of ASCs in a way the consumer can hear it."

Many consumers are often unaware of ASCs and the money they could save utilizing those centers. Hospitals are charging patients nearly twice as much as an ASC for the same procedure. Why wouldn't a patient want to pay less for a procedure without compromising quality?

To bring awareness to the issue, Dr. Movva aims to focus 2016 on marketing his surgery center. The consumer wants a healthcare setting that is higher quality and lower cost, making the ASC an appealing choice.

"However, if consumers are not aware of ASCs, we won't get the benefits of being cheaper, better and faster," says Dr. Movva.

Payers are beginning to take notice of savings at ASCs. Many payers are covering requiring that certain common procedures such as colonoscopy and cystoscopy obtain pre-authorization prior to being done in an HOPD in order to drive their covered lives to ASCs for a better value proposition. "We will see if the hospital systems have a different argument about if they should be paid the same rate," explains Dr. Movva. "In the end, no one wants to pay double for the same procedure."

Some payers are taking a new route that has worked for countless other industries — online shopping. Customers are using different online tools and other resources to compare the prices of healthcare treatment options. Various payers may even opt to provide their customers a financial incentive for choosing the most cost-effective option. If a payer contracts with Vitals SmartShopper, a patient may call the call center to learn about the varying prices facilities offer. If the patient chooses the most cost-effective option, the payer will cut the patients a check based on the total net savings the payer receives.

With rising deductibles and co-pays, patients are more conscious of the prices associated with different procedures than in years past.  As more patients choose the more cost-effective treatment options, payers win, patients win and ASCs win.

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