'Convenience matters': Why multisite ASCs are on the rise

Multisite ASC networks are one of the biggest new trends in the market today.

John Ryan, CEO of OrthoIndy in Indianapolis, connected with Becker's via email July 26 to answer the question: "What trend should ASCs jump on next to be successful?"

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

John Ryan: Traditionally, ASCs were the product of a few important ingredients: a group or selection of physicians, often a hospital or health system partner and sometimes an ASC-operating company to manage the ASC's operations. Put these ingredients together in a joint venture, fund and build the facility and launch the ASC, all on the logic that physicians will then perform a meaningful portion of their surgical volume at the ASC.

While those ingredients have not really changed over time, the demand for outpatient surgical care is exploding. We know that payers favor less expensive outpatient surgical care over more expensive inpatient care, and patients prefer the convenience of outpatient care over an inpatient hospital stay. With this backdrop, an evolving trend we are seeing is the development of multisite ASC networks within the same metropolitan area or region. Discussions around joint venturing multiple facilities in the same partnership versus a single facility is becoming more commonplace in strategic conversations, particularly in geographically-dispersed regions or high-density population areas. It all makes sense so long as you don't overbuild the facilities beyond what the marketplace will allow or the overhead that you can bear.

The outpatient surgical care setting is more akin to physical therapy or urgent care than it is to inpatient care. Convenience matters, and a patient is less likely to drive past three physical therapy locations just because you recommended that they drive to the physical therapy location on the other side of town. Similarly, people will travel for high-quality surgical care but are more likely to choose a high-quality surgical location closer to home than farther away. A well-run network of ASCs in a geographic region should work to capture more patient customers than any one larger ASC will capture. With the tight clinical care labor market we are facing, sharing of labor resources across a multisite ASC network allows each facility to run more efficiently and based upon real-time demand. The market for outpatient surgical care is suggesting that it is more retail and less destination, and I think the healthcare industry is beginning to warm up to this reality.

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