'This is a time for ASCs to thrive,' surgeon says on the looming physician shortage

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More than 2 of 5 active physicians will be older than 65 in the next decade, but one surgeon said he thinks this could be a benefit for practicing physicians.

Timothy Kremchek, MD, is a surgeon at Cincinnati-based Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. He spoke with Becker's ASC Review about  how he thinks the aging physician population will affect the ASC industry. 

Editor's note: The responses were edited lightly for length and clarity.

Question: How do you predict the aging physician population and physician shortages will affect the ASC industry in the next 3 years? 

Dr. Timothy Kremchek: I think the physician shortage is going to swing to the advantage of the physician. With higher competition, many physicians are fighting for new business, especially "good business." This will allow better physician reimbursement, hence, higher motivation.

As there is a shortage and more physicians age, the one thing they want is efficiency. Time is of the essence. This is a time for ASCs to thrive. Multiple rooms for surgeons and efficient use of staff and the rooms will allow more cases to be done and still allow the surgeon more time away. Surgeons will pull away from the slow-moving bureaucratic hospital as they can find more of the things professionally they want to do in a far easier, efficient, streamlined system — the ASC.

In competitive areas, the decrease in physicians will only aggravate the patient base, as many are used to expedient, same-day care. That no longer will be the case.

Q: What novel surgical technique has had the most significant impact on your practice? 

TK: By far, other than advances in arthroscopic surgery, the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction of the elbow and the advances in rehabilitation with that procedure have been a game changer. Being able to allow these youngsters to continue their careers, and in some cases fulfill their life long dreams, has been very rewarding.   

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