Hospitals and health systems are increasingly closing or cutting service lines, citing declining patient volumes and rising costs.
ASCs have been facing similar issues for years as labor and supply costs soar, but because they often operate at much smaller margins than hospitals or health systems, some leaders think the service line cuts could be an opportunity for ASCs to grow.
"As hospitals evaluate and close or ramp down in specific service lines, it can be a real opportunity for ASCs to capture new volume in a variety of specialties," Jennifer Misajet, RN. interim COO and chief nursing officer at Des Moines, Iowa-based MercyOne, told Becker's. "Surgical patient volume in many specialties continues to migrate safely and appropriately to an ambulatory approach in both ASCs and hospitals. While service expansion may require ASCs to purchase specialty equipment and train staff, selectively focusing on growing volumes in specialties moving out of acute care can make sense for the revenue, productivity and utilization of the ASC."
Additionally, because ASCs are often hyper-specialized, some leaders believe these closures provide a specific opportunity for single-specialty ASCs to grow.
"Increasingly, we are seeing ASCs that are focusing their resources around one or two specialties," Alok Sharan, MD, founder and president of Edison, N.J.-based Spine and Performance Institute, told Becker's. "For example, there are already ASCs that are focused on just doing joint replacements. We are seeing some ASCs that are focused around cardiac procedures. We will soon see the same for just pain management and spine procedures. Just as certain hospitals have been developed that just focus on one specialty, I believe that the closure of certain service lines in hospitals will present an opportunity for ASCs to develop outpatient-focused factories that are devoted to one or two specialties."
As the outpatient market becomes more lucrative and costs continue to rise, ASC leaders are hopeful that the surgery center market could offer relief for patients looking for high-value, low-cost care.