While the number of orthopedic procedures — particularly knee and hip replacements — being performed in ASCs continues to grow, this rapid growth creates operational and administrative challenges.
Becker’s ASC Review recently spoke with an expert on the ASC industry to understand major trends affecting the industry and how ASCs are addressing their challenges to enable sustained success. Rebecca Whitney, Vice President of ASC Solutions at Zimmer Biomet, discussed the key factors driving the growth of orthopedic procedures, detailed some of the challenges that ASCs face in keeping up with growing demand and explained how Zimmer Biomet is innovating and partnering to support ASCs.
Macro trends are driving rapid acceleration of orthopedic procedures in ASCs
The demand for orthopedic procedures is growing fast — and this trend is projected to continue, explained Ms. Whitney. This is being driven by the large population of aging baby boomers who need hip and knee replacements in order to maintain their active lifestyle.
“We’re seeing very strong growth in the market projection for hip and knee replacements,” Ms. Whitney said. “As this segment of our population continues to move into this phase of life, hip and knee replacements are going to be more and more common.”
The other trends Ms. Whitney is seeing are improvements in hip and knee technologies and a shift in setting where orthopedic procedures can be performed. As a result of newer technologies, patients can recover more quickly and no longer need to spend four or five days in a hospital after their procedure. And, due to greater focus and efficiency, more orthopedic procedures are shifting to ASCs.
Performing orthopedic procedures in ASCs is a win/win/win
Ms. Whitney described how three key customer stakeholders all benefit from orthopedic procedures being performed in ASCs. For patients, having an orthopedic procedure in a standalone ASC is typically a more convenient, pleasant experience. A patient can arrive in the morning, have their procedure, be discharged later that day and recover in the comfort of their home. It is a simpler, more calming experience, without having to navigate the complexity of a hospital. Also, patients may experience cost savings, since recovering at home is likely to be less expensive than spending several nights at a hospital.
ASCs are also a win for physicians, as surgery centers provide them with greater autonomy and control over their schedule. In addition, ASCs are a win for providers and payers. That’s because ASCs are more efficient, have less operational and administrative complexity and provide a less expensive setting for procedures than a hospital.
Ms. Whitney shared her perspective by stating, “What I love about this space is that a lot of times you see a tradeoff where one customer stakeholder benefits at the expense of another. That is not the case in the ASC market. There are truly benefits for all three of these customer groups. And I think a lot of those benefits are what is continuing to fuel the growth that we see as we move from now through the next 10 to 15 years.”
To thrive during this period, physicians must overcome key business and operational challenges
In speaking and working with multiple ASCs, Ms. Whitney has been told repeatedly by physicians, “We’re pretty confident in our ability to perform knee replacements.” The clinical aspects of shifting orthopedic procedures from hospitals to ASCs are not the primary hurdle.
The most significant challenges that physicians and ASCs face relate to operating as independent businesses. While previously hospitals took care of most operational, financial and administrative details, those responsibilities now fall on physicians and ASC administrators. Ms. Whitney hears from physicians, “I understand how to do a knee replacement; that’s not my issue. Where I really need is a partnership from companies like Zimmer Biomet to help me understand how I can do all this in a way that is very efficient, very affordable and optimizes the environment that we’re moving into.” She noted, “It’s a combination of maintaining the clinical outcomes that they’re used to while helping them ramp up their operational and business acumen to run an efficient, cost effective organization.”
Efficiency is essential in an ASC because ASCs receive lower reimbursement than hospitals for these orthopedic procedures.
Zimmer Biomet has formed a dedicated team focused on helping each ASC achieve its unique goals
Zimmer Biomet has been the leader in hip and knee replacement for a long time, with a rich history and legacy of clinically proven implants. The company is now leveraging this foundation while layering in new solutions to help ASCs address their most significant operational challenges.
Seeing the evolution in the orthopedic marketplace, Zimmer Biomet established a new ASC dedicated team. Many members of this team come from the ASC world, with extensive knowledge and experience in ASC management. This team understands it can’t just take the playbook that Zimmer Biomet has been using for the hospital market and universally apply it to ASCs. Instead, Zimmer Biomet’s ASC team is focused on understanding the unique needs of each ASC, which can vary considerably based on where an ASC is in its maturity and life cycle.
Zimmer Biomet’s ASC team is working with ASCs to have detailed business conversations and to put together customized solutions. Ms. Whitney differentiated the company’s ASC team from a traditional product sales team. “Our ASC sales team is not selling the features and benefits of implants,” she observed. “They’re interested in structuring long-term partnerships with ASC customers.” Ms. Whitney continued, “Zimmer Biomet is taking a blank sheet of paper approach to help ASCs address their most important challenges.” ASC team members have backgrounds in sales, marketing and strategy, and have the ability to bring in additional resources and expertise as necessary.
Zimmer Biomet has developed multiple solutions to help ASCs improve efficiency and profitability
To help each ASC overcome its unique challenges and achieve its specific goals, Zimmer Biomet is developing a portfolio of new solutions. One important area of focus is what Zimmer Biomet terms its Efficient Care program. The idea is to work with ASCs to reduce the amount of instrumentation required at an ASC, which saves time, storage and sterilization costs. A study by Zimmer Biomet found that the Efficient Care program has the potential to reduce costs, resulting in savings from lower sterilization costs and increased operating room efficiency.
An exciting new technology is Zimmer Biomet’s mymobility® partnership with Apple. mymobility with Apple Watch® is a digital care management platform that uses iPhone® and Apple Watch to help deliver support and guidance to patients through a connected experience. mymobility delivers continuous data and patient-reported feedback to facilitate care, outcomes and satisfaction about patients’ surgical preparation and recovery. Ms. Whitney conveyed, “By pulling all of these components together into one comprehensive package, we’re able to help address operational issues for our ASC customers.”
Partnerships and collaboration are the key to future ASC success
Reflecting on conversations she has had with multiple ASC stakeholders over the past year or so, Ms. Whitney said, “Whether you are an implant provider, a surgeon, an ASC administrator or a payer, we’re all sort of figuring this out together.” She believes these key stakeholders need to engage in an ongoing dialog and form creative partnerships so the industry can evolve in a way that benefits everyone. She concluded by stating, “The more open minded we can all be, the more successful we will be collectively, which will ultimately benefit our patients.”
This article was sponsored by Zimmer Biomet.