Why is orthopedics so popular with ASCs?

Orthopedics has been the golden child of ASC specialties for several years, but why?

Kyle Anderson, vice president of finance and ASC at Ortho Rhode Island in Warwick, spoke with Becker's to discuss what makes orthopedics so popular at ASCs. 

Note: This response has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What makes orthopedics such a popular specialty for ASCs?

Kyle Anderson: I think there's probably a few drivers to that as far as its popularity specific to orthopedics. The first that comes to mind is the patient experience and patients' willingness to adopt ambulatory surgery centers as a solution for orthopedics. The orthopedic specialty lends itself to ambulatory care. Although some of these surgeries, many of these surgeries, have historically taken place in a hospital, patients are comfortable with the environment of going to be able to see these orthopedic specialists in an ambulatory setting. It's where their journey typically starts, so I think it's an intuitive place for them. All of the components that practices and surgery centers have focused on in terms of patient experience really supports that. So from the patient side of things I see that popularity is well established and increasing.

From a clinical side of things, orthopedics itself really lends itself to innovations and technologies specific to implants. Orthopedics in general is often implant intensive. So it becomes a bit of a race to see who can create the latest and greatest from an efficiency standpoint, from a minimalistic standpoint, and how can we optimize healing and patient outcomes. From a technology standpoint, that's really what makes orthopedics popular. 

ASCs in the orthopedic realm have long been driven by sports medicine. Think of smaller extremity procedures, carpal tunnels, rotator cuff repairs, those types of things. But as cases migrate and the inpatient-only list changes to allow larger or higher-acuity cases to be performed in an ambulatory surgery center setting, that becomes attractive for everyone. From the business side of things, these are high-margin cases; from the clinical side of things, we can do these safer and safer and more expeditiously with improved experience to the patients. It's sort of a win-win for both parties, which I think is great. 

The final thing that I would think about clinically is the inherent reason that someone is coming for an orthopedic surgery is not frequently related to their medical acuity. So, similar to ophthalmology or dentistry, the medical history is an important component to whether or not that patient is a safe person to be [performed on] at the center but isn't the reason that they're there. There's a broader applicability for orthopedic care and certainly has been a driver in this space.

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