While ASCs, especially independent ASCs, are facing several challenges in the current healthcare environment, including market conditions, competition and legislative interference, there is hope for the future, according to three experts.
Question: Is your outlook for independent ASCs light or dark?
William Evans. Vice President of Surgical Services and Orthopedics at Allina Health (Minneapolis): I believe the outlook for ASCs in general is quite bright, although the outlook for independent ASCs is mixed in my opinion. Certainly many independent ASCs will be successful in the future, but their success will be increasingly dependent upon the right market conditions. Issues such as surgeon consolidation, competition for staff, inflated supply expenses, pricing power in the local market and potentially legislative interference will prove to be challenging to many ASCs. Controlling the key variables needed for success will be of paramount importance.
Jon Schmidt. Vice President of Operations at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute (Orlando): I feel that the future is bright for independent ASCs. I think as patient care, particularly in orthopedics, continues to shift to outpatient models, we will continue to see ASCs being built with various structures put in place. Although I think the majority of ASCs will be connected to larger healthcare systems, there is certainly a place for independent ASCs. Flexibility is going to be essential in this very dynamic environment, where different approaches are going to be used to meet the needs of that particular market. I think this holds true for orthopedics, but I also think it pertains to other specialties who utilize a higher percentage of freestanding ASCs.
Carissa Tyo, MD. Associate Professor of Internal and Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (Chicago): ASCs are paving the way for healthcare optimization rolling forward. As more and more patients require interventions that may be successfully completed away from the acute care hospital setting, we see patients better able to stay in their fundamental support structure of home to recover from their surgical procedures in the care of friends and family. Paired with a well-tuned home-based healthcare support structure, including home health, home physical and occupational therapy, social work and more, we should expect a surge in these outpatient surgical services. Right patient, right service, right time will be a process in evolution with a grand move toward care models focused on keeping patients out of the chaos of the hospital.