As we approach the end of 2016, it’s an appropriate time to look back at the year that was. For ambulatory surgery centers, it’s been a challenging and exciting year. Some major trends have been the increasing migration of cases out of acute-care settings, growth of spine and total joint replacement procedures, patient demands for price transparency and greater attention on cybersecurity. To gain some perspective on the trends and issues that affected individual ASCs and the industry as a whole, we asked  several surgery center professionals to give their perspective on the past year in the ASC business.

 

Where did you see ASCs excel in 2016?

“The commitment to and achievement of patient safety. I’m proud to report that we did not have any reportable events or poor outcomes this year. Amkai has certainly helped us with achieving our objectives in this area of safety thanks to all of the features it provides.”

Kerri Ubaldi, RN, MBA, CPHRM | Merritt Healthcare, VP of Operations

“We feel like most of our ASCs embraced the challenges with the upfront patient collections experience.  Due to escalating patient deductibles and coinsurance, the patient approach and providing various avenues for payment became critical to financial success for an ASC.”

Rob McCarville | Principal, Medical Consulting Group

“We saw our ASCs take aggressive approaches toward expanding and diversifying their services, including adding total joint, spine and retina procedures. ASCs are positioned to be the beneficiary of the increased outpatient migration if they are prepared to capitalize on these new opportunities.”

Joan Dentler | President and CEO, Avanza Healthcare Strategies

How did the use of technology help ASCs support their goals for the year?

“The use of technology was essential in helping us manage and support our ASCs.  We rely heavily on use of concise and user-friendly reporting from our technology partners in areas such as mandatory state reporting, inventory control, and proper insurance claims management.”

Rob McCarville | Principal, Medical Consulting Group

“Our ASC opened this year. Technology allowed us to start our operation without giving up equity or investing a great deal in management.”

Woody Moore | Founder, The Physician’s Advocate

“The use of technology is critical for gathering credible, data-driven benchmarks that can identify areas for improvement and drive positive changes throughout an organization. Technology helps our ASCs maintain compliance with regulatory and accreditation standards. For those ASCs that underwent surveys this year, technology helped make these experiences painless and beneficial.”

Joan Dentler | President and CEO, Avanza Healthcare Strategies

“Technology has helped us to effectively meet state reporting requirements, easily keep track of our physician credentialing, ensure patient safety with drug and allergy interaction notifications, and improve our compliance with documentation.”

Kerri Ubaldi, RN, MBA, CPHRM | Merritt Healthcare, VP of Operations

What makes this a great time to work in an ASC? 

“For outpatient surgical care, ASCs are continuing to prove that they can provide patient-centric, cost-effective, high-quality outcomes on a consistent basis.  The ASC is going to continue to be a location where surgeons embrace the opportunity to work with dedicated, talented clinical staff in order to be efficient providers of surgical care.”

Rob McCarville | Principal, Medical Consulting Group

“Medicare and commercial payors are finally recognizing ASCs are safe and cost effective. Higher-acuity procedures (e.g., spine and total joints) are being performed safely in ASC setting. State ASC advocacy organizations are growing in numbers and influence. “

Woody Moore | Founder, The Physician’s Advocate

“ASCs have become increasingly vital to any organization’s successful outpatient surgery strategy. The shift from quantity-based to quality based payment and the migration of procedures into the outpatient setting shows no sign of slowing down. ASCs are positioned to capture this volume and stake their position as one of the leading — and most important — providers of healthcare.”

Joan Dentler | President and CEO, Avanza Healthcare Strategies

“More and more procedures can now be safely performed in ASCs, which has extended the safety and experience ASCs offer to countless new patients and physicians.”

Kerri Ubaldi, RN, MBA, CPHRM | Merritt Healthcare, VP of Operations

 

While ASCs have been around for decades, there may be no more exciting time to be a part of their growth. Cost containment efforts from legislative and regulatory bodies are putting ASCs in the limelight, as procedures performed there are much less expensive and often much more appropriate for the level of care. We expect this growth to continue into 2017 and beyond. But with the increased attention has come increased regulatory requirements, which are also likely to increase in the coming years.

As ASCs grow, they will need to find ways to scale while staying in compliance with rules and regulations. These are the areas where technology will likely make its biggest impact on the ASC industry. Please stay tuned for our follow-up article, “Looking Ahead: ASCs in 2017.”