Four Trends Driving Hospital-ASC Partnerships

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Ambulatory surgery centers (ASC) are no longer free from the wave of healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&As.) In 2015, Tenet Healthcare Corp. combined with United Surgical Partners International to form the nation’s largest provider of ambulatory surgery.1 Last year, AMSURG merged with Envision Healthcare.2 In January, Optum announced a $2.3 billion deal to acquire Surgical Care Affiliates.3

There’s a momentous shift happening, but ASCs must be prepared for the transition and to enter a successful integration. We worked with the healthcare consulting agency, Sg2, which provides analytics, intelligence and educational services. These are the four biggest trends and roadblocks they’ve identified.

Physician alignment efforts

Hospitals are actively employing physicians of all specialties, including primary care practitioners. Rather than be alienated from or compete with these referral streams, many ASCs are choosing to partner with hospitals.

When choosing the right partner, it is important to understand each other’s goals and how the partnership will be structured from the start. This can seem rather arduous even if the partnership has a lot of excitement and benefits for both, but once the agreement is made you don’t want to be managing conflicts based on assumptions to the terms. Additionally, to position the partnership for faster success, consider some collaboration ideas for not only internal procedures but patient engagement.

Migration of inpatient services

The volume of outpatient surgery cases is expected to increase nine percent by 2022 and 22 percent by 2027, according to Sg2 projections. The increase is due not only to burgeoning demand, but also the shift of what were traditionally inpatient procedures to the outpatient setting. Advances in surgical technology and training mean that more complex — and profitable — procedures can be performed in a cost-effective ASC setting.

Hospitals that want to remain relevant in high-value specialties like orthopedics and spine may benefit from ASC partnerships. “If hospitals can’t perform outpatient surgery at an affordable cost, they are at risk,” says Kristi Crowe, vice president of Sg2.

Financial analyses seem to be the primary driver in determining care sites, but other considerations include efficiency and optimal use of the hospital staff and facilities. Additionally with increasing consumerism, hospitals may want to offer an ASC partner option to help with overall patient satisfaction.

Patient agency

The cost of healthcare is rising, and patients are shouldering more of the financial responsibility for their care. That increased responsibility is the impetus behind the unprecedented surge of consumerism in healthcare.

Patients want to know how much their care is going to cost, and they are shopping around to find the best deals, recognizing the value of having a cost-effective partner. Funneling patients into the proper setting drives down costs for both consumers and healthcare providers.

To get patients this vital information, you can share cost data on your website or simply be upfront when discussing payment policies before scheduling. Also, remind the patient about any final points in advance of procedure day. Administrators can also partner with the referring physician practices and work together to provide an additional communication avenue to patients through the practice. Though this can be challenging, even basic information to start setting expectations for the procedure day can help with patient understanding and efficiency on the day of surgery.

System of care linkages

A partnership between a hospital and an ASC can help both stakeholders improve patient access to services. Hospitals have increasingly invested in multi-disciplinary services across the care continuum to maximize access points and build loyalty among healthcare consumers.

Data shows a smooth, well-executed merger between a hospital and ASC can facilitate improved clinical and financial outcomes for both partners.

This story originally appeared in Outpatient Outcomes magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Our dedicated ambulatory surgery center experts can help with your facility’s needs as it moves through mergers or acquisitions.

1. Tenet and USPI to Combine Their Ambulatory Surgery and Imaging Centers in New Joint Venture. http://investor.tenethealth.com/press-release/acquisition-and-development/tenet-united-surgical-partners-international-and-welsh-car. Published March 23, 2015.

2. Envision Healthcare and AMSURG Complete Merger. http://www.amsurg.com/news/envision-healthcare-and-amsurg-complete-merger/. December 1, 2016.

3. Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA), OptumCare to Combine. http://www.unitedhealthgroup.com/Newsroom/Articles/Feed/Optum/2017/0109SCAOptumCare.aspx. January 9, 2017.

 

About the Author
Antonia Finlayson

Antonia Finlayson

Antonia Finlayson is vice president of marketing for specialty sales at Medline Industries, Inc. She graduated from the University of Illinois and completed her master’s at DePaul University. She is responsible for creating marketing strategies and working with customers to find solutions for ambulatory surgery centers, physician offices, transplant organizations, research facilities and career colleges. Finlayson also owns and creates content for an outpatient facilities’ magazine, Outpatient Outcomes. She is a member of PWH, LPA, ASCA and AALAS.


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