Where ASCs stand in the consumer-driven healthcare era 

ASCs play a huge role in mitigating the rising cost of healthcare as well as providing a more convenient site of service. 

Six ASC leaders joined Becker's to discuss what role ASCs play in the healthcare landscape. 

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

Tina DiMarino, DNP, RN. Administrator of Mid-Atlantic Surgery Pavilion (Aberdeen, Md.): ASCs continue to grow year after year as more cases are migrated to the setting. ASCs have an important role in the shift to a value-based model of healthcare. ASCs also provide positive outcomes for the patient for a more reasonable cost. As healthcare consumers, physicians understand the patients have choices for where they would like to receive their care. With this in mind, ASCs tend to cater to the patient by providing a safe and friendly environment that is truly patient-centric.   

Sandy Berreth RN. Administrator at Foothill Surgery Center (Santa Barbara, Calif.): The ASCs' roles have been clearly identified for several years — the standard answer is that lowering costs to both the payer and the consumer is the essential benefit of the ASC structure in healthcare. A clear second consideration is care and infection prevention. ASCs continue to out-distance acute care hospitals with quality of care and ever-present low infection rates, therefore no returns to the operating room and lower costs. The ASC dynamic is ever-changing.  ASCs are able to adapt without reams of "red-tape." Remember, ASCs are ever-evolving and adapting, we are benchmarking within and without and seeking ways to improve while acute care is often mired in bureaucracy.

Joy Taylor, JD. COO of Axion Spine & Neurosurgery (Alpharetta, Ga.): As those paying for healthcare understand the increasing viability and breadth of ASC procedures, the existing shift toward outpatient care will continue. But it's not just about payers — patients want choices and they don't usually choose a hospital experience, if they have other options. The convenience, as well as both the actual and the perceived ease, of pulling up to an ASC and hopping out is pretty huge. Most patients also report the customer service levels to be higher at ASCs than in hospitals, and that is a tremendous driver, as well. The cherry on top is that the patient's financial responsibility is almost always lower.

Michael Boblitz. CEO of Tallahassee (Fla.) Orthopedic Clinic: 

1.To serve as a relief valve for the growing acuity of hospitals that are constantly challenged with balancing the top priority of the emergent, complex patient with the second priority of the scheduled, elective patient.

2. To play a lead role in the rapidly increasing cost of healthcare. The national data is pretty consistent that a procedure performed in an ASC rather than a hospital reduces the employer's cost by more than 30 percent, and that is so important during these crazy times with inflation running so hot.

Luke Lambert. CEO of Ambulatory Surgery Centers of America (Hanover, Mass.): ASCs deliver outstanding quality and value, which is rare in today’s healthcare environment.  With today's scarcity of clinical staff, ASCs can put them to greater productive use than at hospitals.

Woody Moore. Independent, physician-ventured ASC consultant: For the patient, physician and payer, ASCs are the highest-quality, lowest-cost surgical facility. ASCs also bring fulfilling, skilled jobs with solid earning opportunities to strengthen a community's tax-base. 

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