Two ASC leaders recently joined Becker's to discuss the biggest growth opportunities for ASCs.
Editor's note: These responses were edited lightly for brevity and clarity.
Les Jebson. Regional Administrator at Prisma Health (Greenville, S.C.): The growth opportunities for single- or dual-specialty ASCs is well documented — these correlate naturally with the aging of a population (eyes, joints, spine, etc.). Noting geographic and market specific variations, I think that the growth opportunities are already being absorbed into mature ASCs. What I think you're going to see next are super-sized ASC facilities designed to leverage economies of scale and incorporate lower acuity-complexity cases. Advanced information technology/analytics will drive what procedures are performed in which care setting. Indirectly, this will influence growth rates.
Todd Neiss. Business Manager of Bismarck (N.D.) Surgical Associates: If all payers required their patients to have their outpatient procedures performed in an ASC, where available, ASCs would automatically see growth in the cases they can perform and we would save the healthcare industry billions of dollars, which has already been proven by CMS and the studies they have performed. Instead, you have healthcare systems and payers colluding to make sure procedures are done in the hospital or the hospital outpatient departments, which winds up costing more money. These narrow networks that insurance companies offer because the health system is also selling insurance that requires the patient to be seen only by that health system is another thing wrong with the insurance industry. This is a conflict of interest and should not be allowed.
Now, insurance companies are getting into the provider industry, and they will be doing the same exact thing by requiring their insured patients to only use providers owned by that insurance company. Patients need to fight to be seen by whichever provider they choose. This is the only true way we will be able to fix a healthcare industry that is broken. It is with competition and regulation to support fair competition. That will give ASCs a competitive advantage and will keep them as the low-cost alternative, which will provide them with opportunities for growth.