'ASCs are not new': What people get wrong about surgery centers

Les Jebson, regional administrator at Greenville, S.C.-based Prisma Health, joined Becker's to discuss the misconceptions of ASCs and how declining physician pay could affect the industry. 

Editor's note: These responses were edited lightly for brevity and clarity. 

Question: What misconception do people have about the ASC industry?

Les Jebson: One of my professional goals remains in informing and educating colleagues and consumers alike about the value proposition that ASCs provide in the care of patient populations. ASCs are not new.

However, innovation and advancement in procedural-based care — device materials, anesthetics, techniques — are allowing ASCs to be a valuable component of overall integrated care delivery. When I started my career, joint replacements were four- to seven-day hospital stays. The aforementioned advancements have allowed patients to receive a new joint and return home the same day. If their acuity is such, they can still have joint replacement surgery in a hospital and utilize the infrastructure that the hospital setting affords. Thus, the systems are designed around providing the best care in the most appropriate care setting.

Some additional misconceptions I note are that ASCs do not have to adhere to the same standards as their sister hospitals. Congruently, only simple cases can be performed in ASC settings. I think the advancements in heart procedures, orthopedic procedures and ophthalmology demonstrate that higher complexity care can be provided in an ASC setting.

Q: How will declining physician pay affect the ASC industry?

LJ: CMS and some commercial payer changes may create some cost pressures, but I do not believe it is immediately impacting physician compensation. Typically, ASCs have very linear services that they provide. By providing high-volume repetitive procedures, the ASC setting may allow for greater efficiencies and throughput, which in turn can negate reductions in some payer rates. Independent physician groups with joint ventures may recognize these declines more than those in larger integrated care delivery systems.

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