ASCs aggressively seeking more physicians to stay in growth mode

ASCs are in growth mode as new procedures move outpatient, and they need more physicians to maximize case volume and revenue. But there is a limited pool of independent physicians able to join existing or new surgery centers, which could slow growth.

Kyle Anderson, vice president of finance and ASC at Ortho Rhode Island in Providence, told Becker's he is focused on expanding spine, pain and joint arthroplasty service lines, and will need additional physicians to fill up the center.

"To remain mission focused on cost-effective and patient-centric care, we continue to recruit like-minded, skillfully trained physicians and surgical teams," said Mr. Anderson. "Ortho RI's leadership in technology and innovation is a catalyst for perpetual growth, and thoughtful alignment between the patient, surgical team, anesthesia and surgeon will truly support effective medicine."

Reuben Gobezie, MD, founder and director at Westlake, Ohio-based Gobezie Shoulder Institute and Regen Orthopedics, told Becker's CMS reimbursing for total shoulder replacements in the ASC starting this year has the potential to increase the volume of cases at his center. He is also looking to recruit private practice physicians to his ASCs.

"The bulk of these successful recruitments are being driven by the remnant private practice orthopedic and pain management specialists who have continued doing their procedures in hospitals and are now transitioning into established ASCs," he said. "The reasons for this transition by these physicians are often related to decreases in efficiency and availability of OR block times secondary to staff shortages at large hospital systems as well as the potential to drive more revenue through ASC ownership."

Total shoulder replacements will also be a boon for The Surgical Center at Columbia (Mo.) Orthopaedic Group. Andrew Lovewell, CEO of The Surgical Center at Columbia Orthopaedic Group, said he also plans to add more pain procedures to meet patient demand, but his current physicians are at capacity.

"Our growth strategy for our practice and ASC both depend on us recruiting high quality physicians and providers to continue to deliver excellent care in our market," he told Becker's.

Independent physicians able to join surgery centers are rare; according to the American Medical Association, the percentage of independent physicians dropped over the last decade to 46.7%. But the tide could be shifting.

Manoj Mehta, MD, medical director at Endoscopy Center of the North Shore, told Becker's he has seen physician colleagues in the Chicago area grow frustrated with large health systems' focus on productivity and volume over patient satisfaction. Patients are also looking for more personalized care, he said.

"All these factors have created tremendous opportunity in private practice, and I hope to see a significant resurgence of private practices as a result," Dr. Mehta said. "Multiple gastroenterologists have left the big hospital system in our area and have gone into private practice, including one stellar local gastroenterologist joining my own outpatient facility."

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