5 encouraging trends for ASC growth

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The outpatient surgery landscape has seen steady growth over the past decade, but the pandemic introduced heightened uncertainty into planning for the future. ASC leaders can take advantage of trends as a strategy to help ensure the success of their practices.

Here are five encouraging trends Becker's ASC Review has covered recently:

Specialties with high ASC growth potential

Jason Strauss. President of Deerfield, Ill.-based Surgical Care Affiliates:

One of the areas that we're focused on is cardiology and vascular procedures. We've got several partnerships today, both on the ASC and the [office-based lab] side. And the reality is if you look at claims data from the various Medicare and commercial plans, roughly 98 to 99 percent of that spending is occurring in a hospital-based location. 

The next that has been continuing to build and grow is total joints and spine procedures. Technology continues to evolve from a pain standpoint to make more and more patients clinically eligible to have those procedures done [in an ASC]. 

[There] still is a tremendous opportunity in gastroenterology, neurology and ophthalmology.

ASCs can foster growth through consolidation

Meredith Warf. Vice president of ASC operations at U.S. Orthopaedic Partners in Madison, Miss.:

The key to growth for orthopedics, for U.S. Orthopaedic Partners, is we believe that consolidation is here. We're stronger together.

[It means] partnering with payers and health systems and whatever it takes to make sure we can create that ASC environment of quality patient care at the very lowest cost possible. It's being agile in an environment where everything is changing. 

ASCs can capitalize on a choosier medical workforce

Karen Bewer, BSN, RN. Administrator of Milwaukee-based Pain Physicians of Wisconsin and affiliated ASCs:

One of the first things I did when I advertised for registered nurses for the ASC is I headlined the ad with, 'No nights, no weekends, no holidays, no call.' And it really seemed like that spoke to the nurses that were out there looking for a position. Perhaps they were tired of the long hours and what they'd been through during the pandemic.

And all of a sudden there was a job that was still in acute care, that was still exciting. They'd use their skills, they didn't have to work nights and weekends and holidays. I used that to my advantage, and it worked. I've gotten some excellent nurses that just needed a change.

Gap in physician compensation between hospitals and ASCs could be narrowing

Mark Schwartz. CEO of Blue Ridge Orthopaedic & Spine Center in Warrenton, Va.:

In terms of physicians, I think the hospitals have been able to have a [good] margin, and as hospital margins get challenging, they're typically taking a loss on the physician side. So I'm not sure that is a sustainable model going forward, unless there's other changes within the pipeline in terms of physicians coming into the field or reimbursements.

ASCs are in a strong position for recruiting physicians

Barry Dison. Administrator of Advanced Surgical Care of Baton Rouge (La.):

When it comes to competing with hospitals to recruit top physician talent, the ASC industry is in a very strong position.

… There is the financial incentive to join an ASC because the physician-owner is able to participate in distributions during successful periods of the year.

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