ASCs face several obstacles today from inflation to staffing woes; some will remain in the coming months while other new issues are likely to emerge.
Four ASC industry leaders reflect on their biggest obstacles and what they expect will change over the next 12 months.
Matt Lightle. Director of Business Development of Surgical Center at Columbia (Mo.) Orthopaedic Group: Staying relevant in today's market as online platforms like Hinge Health, Sword and others continue to gain market share will be paramount. We have to meet our patients where they are, and the marketplace is becoming increasingly more virtual. Our good reputation and exceptional patient outcomes have not yet been communicated to these platforms. So, ensuring that patients have the proper data to make the best decisions possible about their care will become progressively more meaningful.
Ronjon Paul, MD. Chair of Spine Surgery at Duly Health and Care (Naperville, Ill.): The healthcare landscape regionally and nationally is very fluid. Payers, hospital systems and providers are consolidating in creative ways. Fortunately, we have a talented team working hard to navigate those challenges. I believe we are in a very strong and secure place and will continue the momentum over the next 12 months and beyond.
Annu Navani, MD. Founder and CEO of Comprehensive Spine & Sports Center (Campbell, Calif.): The top challenges now are keeping up with the physician and staff recruitment and dealing with supply chain disruption, as businesses have exponentially grown during the pandemic and will continue to grow. A glaring example is the recent brief close of Shanghai's GE plant leading to a recent CT contrast dye shortage. Issues like these are seen every day in the clinics. I think these issues will continue over the next 12 months and will depend on how the pandemic is handled going forward and how long it takes to normalize our life.
Micahel Redler, MD. Partner and Orthopedic Surgeon at Connecticut Orthopaedics (Fairfield): The challenges aren't all bad regarding what's moving forward because we're in basic agreement with the payers and most often with the patients to move these higher-acuity cases to an ambulatory surgical center. Our challenge is to ensure that patients are properly selected, that they will still receive excellence in care, and that we have the wherewithal. We need to do just as good a job in an ambulatory setting as in the hospital. Some of the things we have done now at Connecticut Orthopedics is creating bundle packages for both joints and even the spine. Also, we have a hospital or post-op hotel where patients stay overnight. Under the guidance of Susan Bader, our CEO, we've included that in our bundle payments for some of these high-acuity cases, and the patients love it.
It drives more volume to these centers and I think it provides better care because these patients are getting up and being cared for, and we know that recovery completely at home during the first 24 hours can be variable. So I think that's been a win-win situation. I think that the thing that we look for now is that we want to partner with these payers so that if we're doing these higher acuity cases on an outpatient basis where they're saving a lot of money, we'd like to see an increase in the professional fees to help encourage orthopedic surgeons to do more of these cases in an outpatient setting.