This past year has resulted in some new trends related to ambulatory surgery center (ASC) development. These have included reimbursement changes, proposed healthcare reform legislation particularly in the form of accountable care organizations (ACOs), and an increase in hospital acquisition of ASCs. There is speculation that there will be consolidation of ASCs given these recent trends. Undoubtedly, competition will increase and there will be continued pressure to enhance patient satisfaction as well as ensuring that the needs of physicians performing surgical cases in ASCs are being met by the owners of those organizations.
What physicians want
What accounts for physician satisfaction in an ASC? The answer to this question, which is multi-factorial, should not be rhetorical in nature. Factors of importance to physicians include, but are not limited to, equity opportunities, tangible participation in the governance of the facility, evidence of expertise in scheduling, efficiency related to throughput, adequate staffing, appropriate mix of cases that can safely and profitably be performed in an ASC, opportunities to participate in the selection of surgical equipment, and a reasonable complement of surgeons who are experienced and capable of functioning effectively in this venue.
Considering a joint venture
Because of anticipated 2012 MedPAC reimbursement recommendations, it appears that ASC payments will remain relatively flat in the near future. The challenge, however, for ASCs will be their ability to deal with value-based purchasing initiatives while maintaining current reimbursement levels as a result of being required to demonstrate the quality of services they provide.