September 21, 2021

Category: Healthcare Industry, Physicians

IN A NUTSHELL:

  • Ambulatory surgery centers reduce expenses for patients, providers, and payers
  • Facilities offer more autonomy for physicians
  • First began more than 50 years ago

Ambulatory surgery centers are gaining prominence as a beneficial option for patients while serving as a fine example of a successful healthcare delivery transformation as the industry struggles to simultaneously improve cost and quality of care. An ambulatory surgery center is a healthcare facility that offers patients the convenience of having a surgery or a similar type of procedure performed outside the hospital setting with the same level of care.

The concept of an ambulatory surgery center began more than fifty years ago thanks to the efforts of Dr. Wallace Reed and Dr. John Ford. The physicians began collecting endorsements from the governmental bodies and members of the health care community they needed to obtain financing for a facility that would provide affordable and accessible outpatient surgery alternatives while delivering quality patient care.

On February 12, 1970 their idea came to fruition when Surgicenter, the nation’s first freestanding ambulatory surgery facility, opened its doors. On that day, five physicians performed five procedures at the facility, four of which required general anesthesia.

In the years that followed, ambulatory surgery centers demonstrated the ability to improve the quality of healthcare delivery while reducing costs. This characteristic makes ambulatory surgery centers quite unique when most developments in health care services and health care technology come with a higher price tag.

Previous, nearly every type of surgery took place within the walls of a hospital. This caused wait times of several weeks, sometimes months, before a procedure could be performed. At the same time, patients spent multiple days recovering in the hospital and several weeks out of work recovering at home.

Benefits for Healthcare Providers:

Ambulatory surgery centers offer the ability for physicians to have increased control over their surgical practices through:

  • Schedule procedures efficiently
  • Create teams of specially trained staff for each procedure
  • Increase their control over proper equipment
  • Ensure facilities are tailored to the needs of their patients.

Overall, Ambulatory Surgery Centers benefit healthcare providers with workplace autonomy and increased control over their work environment as well as the quality of care which were not afforded to them in the hospital setting.

Consequently, physicians who do not have ownership interest in an ASC still choose to work in these types of facilities in such high numbers instead of a hospital setting. It is important to note that physicians continue to have some ownership in nearly all ambulatory surgery centers and an increasing number of hospitals are embracing the ASC model. This allows providers and hospital networks to streamline medical credentialing and healthcare administration with a platform that is beneficial to providers and facilities.

Ready Doc™ by Intiva Health allows healthcare administrators to manage credentials and rosters at multiple locations, whether it be a hospital for ambulatory surgery center, within the same roster and dashboard. At the same time, healthcare providers working at either a hospital, ambulatory surgery center, or both, can stay up-to-date on their own credentials and continuing medical education requirements with a single login.

Benefits for Patients:

There are two main benefits of Ambulatory Surgery Centers for patients: care and cost.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an interest among healthcare providers, hospitals, and medical technology manufacturers to acquire or enter the surgery center business in order to erode patient volumes at hospitals for the goal of reducing hospital-acquired Coronavirus infections.  The healthcare delivery model of an ambulatory surgery center allows physicians to focus on a small number of procedures in a single setting instead of having to rely on a hospital setting which involves large-scale demands for space, resources and administrators who are already involved with multiple tasks.

This results in patients having the ability to bring their concerns directly to the physician, who has specific knowledge about each patient’s case, rather than having to first communicate with hospital administrators, who often lack detailed knowledge about individual patients. This direct communication results in an extremely high patient satisfaction rate with care and services received at an ambulatory surgery center.

Improved care delivery and patient satisfaction are great qualities in their own way, yet reduced out-of-pocket costs make ambulatory surgery centers even more appealing.

Patients often pay less coinsurance for procedures performed in an ambulatory surgery center than for comparable procedures in the hospital setting.

Without the efforts of Dr. Reed and Dr. Ford, the birth of Surgicenter, and all of the ASCs which followed in its footsteps, health care expenditures would have been billions of dollars higher throughout the past fifty years. Lower costs mean private health insurance plans also save money, which means employers also incur lower health care costs when their employees seek out care at an ambulatory surgery center.

Ultimately, ambulatory surgery centers are proven to be an important factor within the healthcare industry as a whole.

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